World’s Biggest Ship Lift Opens in China

Mike Schuler
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September 21, 2016

The ship lift at the Three Gorges Dam in China is the world’s largest.

Officials in China have began testing the world’s largest ship lift at the massive Three Gorges Dam in Central China.

The shiplift can lift vessels up to 3,000 tons across a vertical distance of 113 meters from the reservoir to the river below. The ship chamber itself has a pool of water 120-meters long by 18-meters wide and 3.5-meters deep. The lift was built to accommodate mostly small and medium-sized vessels, as larger ships use the dam’s adjacent five-tiered lock system to navigate the waterway. In addition to boosting capacity, the new lift is also expected to reduce transit time for most vessels from several hours to under one hour.

Trials of the lift began last Sunday after more than a decade of planning and construction. Check out this video below: 

Spanning the Yangtze River, the Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydropower project. Although the dam has been in commission since 2003, the power station opened in 2012 and in 2014 it set a new world record by producing 98.8 TWh of power.

Of course the world’s largest hydro-power dam is not without its share of controversy. While it is marveled by some for its amazing feat of engineering, the dam is notoriously debated both in China and overseas over issues related to its location and development, the displacement of people, and the ecological and environmental impacts that it has had on the area.

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