With the last turbo-generator in operation on the south bank of the Yangtze River at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, the Three Gorges Project looks set to be completed one year ahead of construction schedule.
Generating unit 15, which had a 72-hour test run, would be connected to the power grid on Thursday, said Cao Guangjing, deputy general manager of China Three Gorges Project Corporation.
"More checks on unit 15 and other aspects concerning the entire project, including final financial accounting are also be pending," said Cao.
Begun in 1993, the Three Gorges Project was expected to be finished by November 2009.
With a budget equivalent to US$22.5 billion, the project is also a water control system for the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze, China's longest waterway. Its functions cover power generation, flood control and navigation.
Main works of the project are a 185-meter-high dam, a five-tier ship lock, and 26 hydropower turbo-generators. The dam has 14 turbo-generators on the left bank and 12 on the right.
Combined, they will produce 84.7 billion kw of electricity annually, which would require 40 million to 50 million tonnes of coal consumption for a coal-fired station to produce.
Plans were expanded further to include six more turbines by 2012. A ship lift will be finished by 2015.
The project has produced 270 billion kwh of electricity since July 2003, when the first generating unit began operation.
The electricity generated by the project supplies 15 provinces in central, eastern and southern China, easing a severe power shortage in industrial regions.
As of June, 1.24 million residents had been relocated to make way for the construction.
(Xinhua News Agency October 29, 2008)