BEIJING – China has completed the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, with the launch of the final phase of project – a shiplift (elevator) that will allow ships on the Yangtze River to cross the dam, official China Daily newspaper reported on Monday.
The shiplift, the largest one in the world and designed by Chinese and German engineers, began its trial run on Sunday, putting an end, according to the official Chinese newspaper, to 22 years of construction.
The structure will permit small and medium-sized ships, with a maximum displacement of 3,000 tons, to bypass a height difference of 113 meters (370.7 feet) between the two sides of the dam along the Yangtze River, which witnesses heavy traffic.
Until now, the only way the ships could cross the dam along the river was through a five-tier ship lock system, also the largest of its kind in the world, through which it took four hours to cross the dam.
The elevator, which has a pool of water 120-meters long, 18-meters wide and 3.5-meters deep for placing boats, will help reduce this time to 40 minutes.
Construction of the Three Gorges Dam began in 1993 in response to the growing energy demand in the Yangtze delta (Shanghai and its surroundings) – which has been at the forefront of Chinese development – and to reduce flooding.
Critics say the project displaced around 1.28 million people, caused negative environmental impact and led to the loss of Chinese architectural heritage that is now underwater.