The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtzee river in China is the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity. The dam was envisioned in 1919, however, the project did not begin until December of 1994. Construction was a massive endeavor, costing 180 billion yuan ($22.5 billion USD) and displacing 1.24 million residents from 13 cities. Despite its high initial cost, the dam recovered the full 180 billion yuan through 1,000 terawatt hours of electricity production in December of 2013. Furthermore, the Chinese government asserts that the relocation of these residents is outweighed by the increased flood protection provided by the dam to those further downriver.
The dam received harsh criticism for its environmental impact. The region is home to a large number of endangered plant and animal species that were guaranteed to be impacted by the dam’s construction. Chinese government scholars claim that the construction of the Three Gorges Dam directly caused the extinction of the Bajie, or Chinese River Dolphin.
In this timelapse created using Google Earth you can witness how the construction of the dam has profoundly changed the surrounding area.