Biggest Dam in the World – Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

Top 10 Biggest Dam in the World

S. No

Biggest Dam

Reservoir Capacity/ Cubic Meter

1

Kariba Dam

185 billion

2

Bratsk Dam

169 billion

3

Akosombo Dam

144 billion

4

Daniel Johnson Dam

140 billion

5

Guri Dam

135 billion

6

Aswan Dam

132 billion

7

W.A.C. Bennet Dam

74 billion

8

Krasnoyarsk Dam

73 billion

9

Zeya Dam

68 billion

10

Robert-Bourassa Dam

61.7 billion

Biggest Dam in the World

The Biggest Dam in the World refers to the largest man-made structure designed to impound water, typically used for various purposes such as hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, flood control, and water supply. Dams are monumental engineering feats that harness the power of rivers and create massive reservoirs, transforming the surrounding landscapes and providing essential benefits to societies. These colossal structures, often spanning vast lengths and rising to impressive heights, are a testament to human ingenuity and our ability to tame and utilize natural resources. The title of the “Biggest Dam in the World” is continuously contested as countries strive to construct larger and more efficient dams. These engineering marvels play a vital role in shaping our modern world by providing renewable energy, mitigating floods, ensuring water security, and facilitating economic development. With their immense scale and impact, the biggest dams in the world serve as icons of human achievement and our ongoing quest to harness the power of nature for the benefit of humanity.

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1. Kariba Dam (185 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Kariba Dam, located on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe, is one of the largest dams in the world in terms of reservoir capacity. With a staggering capacity of 185 billion cubic meters, it is a vital source of hydroelectric power and water supply for both countries. Construction of the dam began in 1955 and was completed in 1959, making it one of the engineering marvels of its time.

The Kariba Dam stands at a height of 128 meters and spans a length of 579 meters. It creates Lake Kariba, which stretches over 280 kilometers in length and covers an area of approximately 5,400 square kilometers. The dam’s primary purpose is to generate electricity, and it has an installed capacity of 1,626 megawatts, providing a significant portion of the power supply for Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In addition to its power generation capabilities, the Kariba Dam plays a crucial role in flood control, irrigation, and navigation along the Zambezi River. The dam also supports a diverse ecosystem with abundant wildlife, including fish species such as tigerfish and bream.

2. Bratsk Dam (169 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Bratsk Dam, situated on the Angara River in Russia, is another massive hydroelectric dam with a reservoir capacity of approximately 169 billion cubic meters. Its construction began in 1954, and the dam was completed in 1967, making it one of the largest concrete dams in the world.

With a height of 125 meters and a length of 4,417 meters, the Bratsk Dam forms Lake Bratsk, which covers an area of around 5,470 square kilometers. The dam’s main purpose is to generate electricity, and it has an installed capacity of 4,515 megawatts, providing a significant portion of the power supply for the Siberian region.

The Bratsk Dam plays a crucial role in Russia’s energy sector, contributing to the country’s power grid and supporting industrial development in the region. Additionally, the dam and its reservoir offer opportunities for recreational activities, including boating, fishing, and wildlife observation.

3. Akosombo Dam (144 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Akosombo Dam, located on the Volta River in Ghana, is a key infrastructure project that has significantly impacted the country’s development. With a reservoir capacity of around 144 billion cubic meters, the dam plays a vital role in hydroelectric power generation and water management in the region.

Constructed between 1961 and 1965, the Akosombo Dam stands at a height of 114 meters and spans a length of 660 meters. Its reservoir, Lake Volta, is one of the largest man-made lakes globally, covering an area of approximately 8,500 square kilometers. The dam’s power station has an installed capacity of 1,020 megawatts, making it the largest single hydroelectric power station in Ghana.

The Akosombo Dam has been instrumental in Ghana’s economic development, providing a reliable source of electricity for industries, homes, and infrastructure projects. It has also facilitated the growth of the aluminum industry in the country, as the dam’s power supports aluminum smelting operations. Additionally, the dam and its reservoir offer opportunities for fishing, transportation, and tourism, further contributing to the local economy.

4. Daniel Johnson Dam (140 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Daniel Johnson Dam, also known as the Manic-5 Dam, is a hydroelectric dam located on the Manicouagan River in Quebec, Canada. It is one of the largest multiple-arch buttress dams in the world, with a height of 214 meters (702 feet) and a length of 1,314 meters (4,311 feet). The dam was constructed between 1959 and 1970 and was named after Daniel Johnson, the Premier of Quebec at that time.

The primary purpose of the Daniel Johnson Dam is to generate hydroelectric power. It has a capacity of 2,644 megawatts and generates approximately 17.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is enough to power about 1.3 million homes. The dam’s reservoir, known as Lake Manicouagan, covers an area of 1,973 square kilometers (762 square miles) and is a popular spot for boating and fishing.

The construction of the Daniel Johnson Dam required the relocation of several communities, and it had a significant impact on the local environment. However, it has provided substantial economic benefits to the region through the creation of jobs and the generation of clean, renewable energy. The dam has also contributed to flood control and water management in the area.

5. Guri Dam (135 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Guri Dam, officially known as the Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Power Station, is located on the Caroni River in Venezuela. It is one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world, with a height of 162 meters (531 feet) and a length of 7,426 meters (24,355 feet). Construction of the dam began in 1963 and was completed in 1978.

The primary purpose of the Guri Dam is to generate electricity for Venezuela. It has an installed capacity of 10,235 megawatts, making it the third-largest hydroelectric power station globally. The dam’s reservoir, called Lake Guri, covers an area of approximately 4,250 square kilometers (1,640 square miles) and is one of the largest artificial lakes in the world.

The Guri Dam has played a crucial role in Venezuela’s energy sector, supplying a significant portion of the country’s electricity needs. It has helped diversify the energy mix, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and provide a reliable source of power. However, the dam has faced challenges in recent years due to droughts and inadequate maintenance, leading to power shortages and blackouts in the country.

6. Aswan Dam (132 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Aswan Dam, officially known as the Aswan High Dam, is located on the Nile River in Egypt. It is a massive rock-fill dam with a height of 111 meters (364 feet) and a length of 3,830 meters (12,565 feet). Construction of the dam began in 1960 and was completed in 1970.

The primary objectives of the Aswan Dam are flood control, irrigation, and hydroelectric power generation. It has significantly reduced the devastating effects of Nile River floods, allowing for better control and regulation of water flow. The dam’s reservoir, known as Lake Nasser, is one of the world’s largest artificial lakes, covering an area of about 5,250 square kilometers (2,030 square miles).

The Aswan Dam has had a transformative impact on Egypt’s agriculture and energy sectors. It provides irrigation water to vast areas of farmland, supporting increased agricultural production and food security. Additionally, the dam’s hydroelectric power station has an installed capacity of 2,100 megawatts, contributing to Egypt’s electricity supply and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

However, the construction of the Aswan Dam resulted in the displacement of thousands of people and the loss of historical sites, including the relocation of the ancient temples of Abu Simbel. The dam has also led to environmental challenges, such as the accumulation of sediment in Lake Nasser and the disruption of the Nile’s natural flow, affecting downstream ecosystems and agriculture.

7. W.A.C. Bennet Dam (74 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The W.A.C. Bennett Dam, located on the Peace River in British Columbia, Canada, is one of the largest hydroelectric dams in North America. With a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters, it is an impressive feat of engineering. The dam was named after W.A.C. Bennett, the Premier of British Columbia at the time of its construction.

Completed in 1968, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam stands at a height of 183 meters (600 feet) and stretches across a length of 2,068 meters (6,785 feet). It creates Williston Lake, which is the largest reservoir in British Columbia and the eighth-largest in the world by volume. The reservoir spans an area of 1,761 square kilometers (680 square miles) and has a maximum depth of 259 meters (850 feet).

The dam’s primary purpose is to generate hydroelectric power. It has an installed capacity of 2,730 megawatts and generates an average annual energy output of around 13,100 gigawatt-hours. The electricity produced by the W.A.C. Bennett Dam is crucial for meeting the energy needs of British Columbia, powering industries, homes, and businesses.

In addition to its power generation capabilities, the dam provides benefits such as flood control, irrigation, and recreational opportunities. It also supports fish populations through fishways and habitat enhancements.

The W.A.C. Bennett Dam is a remarkable engineering achievement that has significantly contributed to the development of British Columbia’s energy infrastructure, while also ensuring the responsible and sustainable use of water resources.

8. Krasnoyarsk Dam (73 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Krasnoyarsk Dam, situated on the Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, is one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power plants. With a reservoir capacity of 73 billion cubic meters, it plays a crucial role in meeting Russia’s energy demands. The dam was named after the nearby city of Krasnoyarsk.

Construction of the Krasnoyarsk Dam began in 1956 and was completed in 1972. It stands at a height of 124 meters (407 feet) and spans a length of 1,065 meters (3,494 feet). The dam created the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir, which is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the world. It covers an area of approximately 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) and has a maximum depth of 105 meters (344 feet).

The main purpose of the Krasnoyarsk Dam is to generate electricity. It has an installed capacity of 6,000 megawatts and produces an average annual output of around 22.6 terawatt-hours. The electricity generated by the dam is distributed to various regions of Russia, supporting industrial activities, residential needs, and economic development.

Apart from power generation, the Krasnoyarsk Dam provides additional benefits such as flood control, navigation improvements, and the regulation of river flow. It also serves as a major tourist attraction, attracting visitors who are interested in its impressive scale and engineering prowess.

The Krasnoyarsk Dam stands as a testament to Russia’s commitment to harnessing renewable energy sources and has played a significant role in the country’s energy landscape for several decades.

9. Zeya Dam (68 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Zeya Dam, located on the Zeya River in the Russian Far East, is a major hydroelectric facility with a reservoir capacity of 68 billion cubic meters. It is one of the largest dams in Russia and contributes significantly to the region’s energy production and water management systems.

Construction of the Zeya Dam began in 1972, and it was completed in 1994. Standing at a height of 242 meters (794 feet), the dam stretches across a length of 1,302 meters (4,272 feet). The reservoir created by the dam, known as the Zeya Reservoir, covers an area of approximately 2,420 square kilometers (935 square miles) and has a maximum depth of 180 meters (590 feet).

The primary purpose of the Zeya Dam is to generate electricity. It has an installed capacity of 1,330 megawatts and produces an average annual output of around 4.7 terawatt-hours. The power generated by the dam is vital for meeting the energy needs of the remote and sparsely populated regions of the Russian Far East.

Additionally, the Zeya Dam plays a crucial role in flood control, regulating the flow of the Zeya River and mitigating the risk of downstream flooding. It also provides water for irrigation, industrial use, and navigation purposes.

The construction of the Zeya Dam had a significant impact on the local environment, resulting in the creation of a large reservoir and the displacement of nearby communities. However, efforts have been made to mitigate these effects and restore the ecological balance in the region.

10. Robert-Bourassa Dam (61.7 billion)

Biggest Dam in the World - Top 10 Marvels of Engineering

The Robert Bourassa Dam, formerly known as the La Grande-2-A, is a hydroelectric dam located on the La Grande River in northern Quebec, Canada. With a reservoir capacity of 61.7 billion cubic meters, it is one of the largest dams in the province and plays a crucial role in meeting Quebec’s energy needs.

Construction of the Robert Bourassa Dam began in 1974, and it was completed in 1981. The dam stands at a height of 162 meters (531 feet) and spans a length of 2,835 meters (9,301 feet). It created the Robert Bourassa Reservoir, which covers an area of approximately 2,835 square kilometers (1,093 square miles) and has a maximum depth of 107 meters (351 feet).

The primary purpose of the Robert Bourassa Dam is to generate hydroelectric power. It has an installed capacity of 5,616 megawatts, making it one of the largest hydroelectric power stations in North America. The dam produces an average annual output of around 23.4 terawatt-hours, supplying electricity to both Quebec and neighboring provinces.

In addition to power generation, the dam provides benefits such as flood control, regulation of river flow, and improved navigation. It has also contributed to the development of local infrastructure and provided economic opportunities in the region.

The construction of the Robert Bourassa Dam and its associated power stations had significant environmental and social impacts. It led to the flooding of vast areas, affecting the traditional lands of Indigenous communities. However, measures have been taken to address these concerns, including the implementation of mitigation strategies and the inclusion of Indigenous voices in decision-making processes

What Engineering Challenges Are Faced in Constructing the Biggest Dams?

Constructing the biggest dams in the world poses numerous engineering challenges due to their colossal size, complex design requirements, and the need to ensure structural integrity and long-term stability. Some of the key engineering challenges faced during the construction of large dams include:

1. Foundation and Geotechnical Considerations: Building a dam requires a solid foundation to support the enormous weight of the structure and the water it will impound. The geological conditions of the site must be thoroughly analyzed to ensure stability, and any weak or unstable soil layers must be addressed through methods such as soil stabilization or excavation.

2. Structural Design: The design of large dams involves complex engineering calculations to determine the appropriate shape, dimensions, and materials needed to withstand the immense forces exerted by the water and other external factors. Engineers must consider factors such as hydrostatic pressure, seismic activity, and the potential for reservoir-induced seismicity, as well as the impact of extreme weather events like floods and earthquakes.

3. Construction Materials and Techniques: The sheer size of large dams requires significant quantities of construction materials, such as concrete or earth-fill materials. Sourcing and transporting these materials to the construction site can be a logistical challenge. Additionally, the construction techniques employed must ensure the integrity of the dam during and after construction, including proper compaction of earth-fill materials and careful placement and curing of concrete.

4. Water Management and Diversion: Constructing large dams often involves managing or diverting the flow of water during the construction phase. Diversion tunnels or cofferdams may be required to redirect the river’s flow, allowing construction to take place on dry ground. Managing water flow is crucial to ensure the safety of workers and prevent damage to the construction site.

5. Environmental Impact Mitigation: Large dams can have significant environmental impacts, such as altering river ecosystems, affecting fish migration, and displacing communities. Engineers must carefully consider and implement measures to mitigate these impacts, such as incorporating fish ladders or fish passages to maintain aquatic connectivity or implementing environmental flow releases to support downstream ecosystems.

6. Seismic Stability: Dams located in seismically active regions must be designed and constructed to withstand potential earthquakes. Engineers analyze the seismic hazard of the area and incorporate appropriate design features to ensure the dam’s stability, such as reinforcement techniques and flexibility in the dam’s structure to absorb seismic energy.

7. Long-Term Safety and Maintenance: Ensuring the long-term safety and structural integrity of large dams is a critical challenge. Engineers must anticipate potential degradation factors, such as erosion, seepage, or damage, and implement regular inspection and maintenance programs to detect and address any issues promptly.

Overcoming these engineering challenges requires careful planning, extensive analysis, and collaboration among multidisciplinary teams of engineers, geologists, and environmental experts. The construction of the biggest dams requires a combination of innovative engineering solutions, adherence to safety standards, and a deep understanding of the complex interactions between water, geology, and the environment.

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Source: ptivs2.edu.vn

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