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Case Study on The Three Gorges Dam in China

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Geography Coursework The Three Gorges Dam ?????? Chris Stanley 11IRW Candidate Number 2527 25th January 2007 Introduction The Three Gorges Dam project, presently being built on the Chinese River Yangtze and it is know to be the world's largest dam and one of the most controversial public works of modern times. The proposed 2.3km long by 185m tall, concrete hydroelectric dam is to cross the river around 400km west of the city of Wuhan. The dam will create a huge reservoir behind it 660km long stretching within the three gorges behind it and allow for the regulation of water west of the Dam. The Three Gorges Project is speculated to be completed by 2008, one year ahead of previous predicted schedule. Map of the River Yangtze History Damming the Yangtze River was first proposed in 1919 by the founder of the Republic of China in order to protect the river communities from the erratic flooding caused by the river that caused a huge amount of destruction and death; however the poor economic state of the country at the time delayed the process. A later communist leader Mao Zedong, in office from 1945-1976, was known to be the most prominent supporter of the project, although it was not until 1993 when the river was diverted and 1994 when construction began. Over the last 50 years, the economy of china has increased vastly in strength. Since 1952, the GDP has increased by around 280 times mainly due to the market based reforms since 1978 which include the privatisation of farming and entrance to the World Trade Organisation. ...read more.


Not only will this cut CO2 emissions (see Greenhouse Gas Emissions) but this will mean China will no longer have to rely as much on foreign imports of coal. This reduction in foreign imports for coal will reap huge benefits for the Chinese government and economy in the long term, despite the huge cost of the dam. The construction of the Three Gorges Dam will contribute to the 2010 target of 840GW per year power capacity of China which will help reduce and end the frequent generator "burn outs" and rolling "black-outs" that are experienced in China. The Generators began running at full capacity recently on October 26th 2006. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Hydro Electric Power in any form saves coal, trees and other un-renewable recourses from being burned in order to create energy. The reaction of burning fossil fuels is: Fuel + Oxygen --> Energy + Carbon Dioxide + Water. The Carbon Dioxide emitted by fossil fuel power stations such as the coal power stations in China contribute heavily to the Greenhouse Effect. China emits the second largest, after the USA, volume of greenhouse gasses in the world and will soon emit more than the USA. On the other hand there is some worry about the natural greenhouse gasses such as methane that may be created as a result of flooding a huge area to become the three gorges reservoir. It is believed that a large amount of methane gas will be created as trees and plants rot in the reservoir. However, most people believe that the benefits of the Dam producing green energy far out-weigh the effect of Greenhouse gasses from the reservoir. ...read more.


This suggests that the construction of The Three Gorges Dam predominantly creates agreements between different groups. There are some major disagreements in the project such as the power companies. This new source of cheap energy will cause the price of power in China to go down, impairing the profit of power companies. I think that problems such as there can be easily solved by regulation. In this case the price of electricity should be regulated so that it does not negatively effect the power companies too much. I think in total the population that benefit from the dam far exceeds the population affected negatively by it and in the big picture China will benefit economically from projects such as these and that the utilisation of their renewable energy sources will help China continue become one of the worlds' strongest economies. In my opinion I think that the main problem with the construction is the environmental impact of the dam that could perhaps be devastating. However I think the 'green energy' that it will create will far outweigh this effect. Despite this, I feel that if the reservoir becomes polluted, I do not think that the project will be much of a success in all fields. The key to the success of this project is to manage the water in the reservoir correctly in order to prevent it becoming a cesspool of human and industrial waste which would conflict with the tourism industry and with those living on the high ground west of the Dam. China as a country has the money to prevent this happen, but whether this money is allocated towards environmental protection or lost in the widespread corruption of the project. ...read more.

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