China's massive Three Gorges dam completed its connection to the power grid, costing the country over £38bn and the displacement of at least 1.3 million people.
The project's 32nd 700-megawatt unit installed on Wednesday brought the dam's total capacity up to 22.5 gigawatts (GW), accounting for 11 percent of China's total hydroelectric capacity.
"The complete operation of all the generators makes the Three Gorges dam the world's largest hydropower project, and the largest base for clean energy," Zhang Cheng, general manager of the project's operator, China Yangtze Power, said in a ceremony.
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The dam's construction began in 1994, with its first generating unit connected to the grid by 2003. Xinhua, the official state news agency, reports that the dam has saved nearly 200m tonnes of coal per year. However, it ended up costing four times the original estimate, not including the money spent on “follow-up work.”
Additionally, some 1.3 million residents have been forced to relocate as the risk of earthquakes and landslides have increased in the region.
Despite the soaring costs, handling the displaced residents and protecting the environment, the government is committed to hydropower. Between 2011 and 2015, Beijing is looking at bringing another 140GW of hydropower capacity on line to meet aggressive renewable energy targets.