The Three Gorges Dam Project





Economic Issues

Social Impacts

Environmental Impacts



International funding for the Three Gorges Dam project is a major factor in its construction. Companies and banks from Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Brazil have all played a role in financing the dam. Government export credit agencies have loaned the Three Gorges Project Development Corporation more than $1.4 billion for the project. China Development Bank has loaned $3.6 billion for the Three Gorges Dam project, making it the primary lender.

There are five main companies in Canada who are helping to finance the project. AGRA Monenco, an international engineering and construction management company, signed a $25 million contract in 1994 for a project management system to provide systems layout and engineering, testing, operational guidance, and training. A year later, they signed another deal for $12.5 million in system management technology and training. This contract was financed by Canada’s Export Development Cooperation (EDC). The Dominion Bridge, Inc. signed a $64 million contract with Chongquing City and Sichuan province for the construction of a cement factory to supply the dam with cement. The EDC financed $23.5 million of this contract for machinery and electrical equipment. General Electric of Canada, in a consortium with Siemens and Voith-Hydro, German engineering companies, signed a $320 contract in 1997 to provide six turbine generators for the dam. EDC is providing $153 million to finance GE Canada. Hydro-Quebec International, an electric utilities company, agreed to supervise the construction of a 900 kilometer transmission line from the Three Gorges Dam to Changzhou in a $1.9 million contract with China Power Grid Development Company.

Workers at the Three Gorges Dam. Courtesy of Yellow Mountain Stone Works

The French electrical equipment and engineering company GEC-Alsthom signed a $400 million contract in 1997 in a consortium with Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) and Kvaerner Energy, Swiss and Norwegian electrical equipment companies, to supply eight turbine generators for the Three Gorges Dam. GEC-Alsthom contribution is worth $212 million. In 2000, GEC-Alsthom agreed to supply the left bank power system of the dam with electrical system equipment in a $12.76 million deal. Electricité de France signed a $5.8 million deal to supervise the production of the generators in 1999.

Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, a German export credit agency, along with the banks Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank, Dresdner Bank, and Commerzbank, provided $271 million to finance Siemens bid in the consortium with GE Canada and Voith-Hydro to provide six generators to the dam. Siemens also signed an $80 million contract in 1999 to supply fifteen transformers in Changzhou at the power converter stationed there. The funding for this contract again comes from Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank, Dresdner Bank, and Commerzbank. Siemens and Voith-Hydro merged in 1999 to form the new company Voith Siemens Hydropower Generation, which signed a $12.79 million contract to contribute electrical system equipment to the left bank power system of the dam. GEC-Alsthom signed a similar contract the same day.

Spillway of the Three Gorges Dam. Courtesy of

The Swiss company Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) signed the $400 million contract with GEC-Alsthom and Kvaerner to provide eight generators. The Swiss export credit agency, Bundesrat Exportrisikogarantie, loaned $143.1 million to the Three Gorges Dam project to purchase the generators. In 1999, ABB agreed to construct two power converter stations at the Three Gorges Dam and at Shanghai in a $340 million agreement. ABB also signed at $112 million deal to contribute high voltage equipment at the Three Gorges Dam electrical substation.

U.S. involvement in the Three Gorges Dam project is minimal. Private companies, such as Caterpillar, Rotec Industries, and U.S. Voith-Hydro, sold between $60 and $100 million in equipment to China for the project. Government banks and agencies did not participate in funding the dam because the project did not display environmental standards similar to those required by Congress in foreign developments. The World Bank also did not finance the Three Gorges Dam due to ambiguous impacts on the environment and the surrounding society.

For more information, visit Who's Who Behind China's Three Gorges Dam