An executive with the China Yangtze River Three Gorges Project Development Corporation said the gigantic dam of the multi-function water control facility would be finished nine months ahead of schedule.
Cao Guangjing, deputy general manager of the corporation, said by May this year, the workers would have built the half-done dam from the southern bank of the river to the height of 185 meters.
"The Three Gorges Project will be capable of controlling the floods on the Yangtze by then and generating more electricity as the level of the water stored in the reservoir will rise from 135 meters at present to 156 meters," said Cao.
Situated near the Xiling Gorge, the easternmost gorge of the Three Gorges on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the Three Gorges Dam is designed to have a length of 2,309 meters and a height of 185 meters.
It will also have the functions for flood control, power generation, navigation upon completion and will be built from northern and southern banks of the flood-prone Yangtze.
Launched in 1993, the Three Gorges Project, including the 185-m-high dam and 26 generators on both banks of the Yangtze, is being built in three phases on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, China's longest.
The preparations and construction of the first phase were carried out between 1993 and 1997. The Yangtze was dammed at the Three Gorges area for the first time on November 8, 1997.
Workers began concrete pouring for the dam from the northern bank of the Yangtze in late 1998 and completed this section of the dam, 1,600-m long, in October 2002.
Concrete pouring for the dam close to the southern bank, extending 660 m, began in July 2003 and is scheduled to finish by early 2007.
In accordance with the original plan, the Three Gorges Project, with an estimated cost of 180 billion yuan (approximately 21.7 billion U.S. dollars), will also have 26 generators with a combined generating capacity of 18.2 million kw.
So far, the workers have successfully installed 14 turbo-generators on the northern bank of the Yangtze in addition to the completion of the dam close to the northern bank.
All the 14 turbo-generators on the northern bank have been put into power generation. They generated 49.09 billion kw/hour of electricity in 2005 alone.
The entire Three Gorges Project is expected to be completed in 2009 and by then, it will be able to generate 84.7 billion kwh of electricity annually.