Shiplift at the Three Gorges dam China

Doable in Germany

The Three Gorges dam at the Yangtze river is the largest hydropower project in the world. It features a vertical ship lift based on the counterweight principle, which allows ships weighing up to 3.000 tonnes to overcome the height difference of 113 m three times faster than the existing lock.

Instead of a rope winch system, the world's largest ship lift has a pinion drive and a safety mechanism combined of rotary Archimedean screw and nut post. This was decided by the Chinese Government based on a feasibility study by KREBS+KIEFER and other specialists. The "German Design Group", a German Joint Venture incorporating KREBS+KIEFER International and Lahmeyer International, was commissioned in 2004.

The construction differs from all known ship lifts in its lifting height as well as in the enormous weights it lifts. The measurement of the construction was also influenced by the fact that, in the event of an earthquake, there would be heavy loads resulting from moving water.


  • General planning
  • Structural Engineering