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February 29, 2008



Three Gorges Dam is as powerful as it is controversial

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China's Three Gorges Dam project, whose construction has taken 11 years and displaced an estimated 1.4 million people along the banks of the Yangtze River, is easily the largest generator of hydroelectric power in the world. By creating a reservoir 410 miles long, it produces enough "juice" to light the equivalent of three of California's largest counties – Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento. While the project provides a clean source of energy and is a welcome alternative to pollution-spewing coal plants, it has led to collapsing shorelines, cracks in buildings and roads, and deteriorating water quality. The world's largest hydroelectric plants, their locations, and energy capacity in megawatts:

Three Gorges (China) 22,500
Itaipu (Brazil/Paraguay) 12,600
Guri (Venezuela) 10,000
Grand Coulee (Washington State) 6,494
Sayano-Shushensk (Russia) 6,400
Krasnoyarsk (Russia) 6,000
Churchill Falls (Canada) 5,428
La Grande 2 (Canada) 5,328
Bratsk (Russia) 4,500
Moxoto (Brazil) 4,328
Ust-Ilim (Russia) 4,320

Associated Press and infoplease.com

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