BEIJING -- China announced it has picked two multinational groups to supply generator units for the vast Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in a deal worth $740 million, according to the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Corp.
Construction of the Three Gorges Dam is to take place over 17 years at a cost of $30 billion. It is to have 26 700-megawatt turbine generators. One group made up of GEC Alsthom of France and ABB Power Generation, a Swiss-Swedish company, were picked to supply eight generators worth $420 million. Designs are to be supplied by Kvaerner Energy of Norway. A second order worth $320 million was awarded to a group made up of Voith Hydro GmbH and Siemens AG of Germany and General Electric Canada Inc.
Chinese subcontractors received a total of 31 percent of the contracts, and Chinese suppliers have been picked to build two generators. No U.S. companies were directly involved, because financing was a condition of participating in the bidding. The U.S. Export-Import Bank declined to provide credits, citing ecological and human rights concerns and the possibility that China could be forced to abandon the project for financial reasons.
Bidding for 12 more generators is to take place in 1999 or 2000. The project calls for the construction of a gigantic dam across the Xiling Gorge on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, creating a 375-mile-long reservoir.
The government says the 610-feet-tall dam is essential for flood control and irrigation, but environmentalists and archaeologists have complained that it will destroy rare plant species and antiquities.
The dam is to begin supplying electricity to central China in 2013. Competition to supply the power turbines also included contractors from France, Japan, Argentina, Ukraine, and Russia.
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