Human beings have built dams to retain water and water conservancy projects for thousands of years, for example, the Dujiangyan Irrigation System in China and the urban water system of ancient Rome. To control flood and utilize water resources by digging irrigation ditches and building dams is an integral part of history of civilization for thousands of years. After industrialization, especially finding of electricity, benefiting mankind with hydro power had once become a symbol of human civilization progress.
In 1878, the electricity generated by the first hydropower project in the world powered on a light in a country cottage in Northumberland, England. Four years later, the first hydropower station which was devoted to serving private and commercial customers was built in Wisconsin, America. Within the next decade, two hydropower stations were built, one in Michigan, America (1880) and another in Ontario, Canada (1881).
Since the 20th century, hydropower technology has gained a mushroom growth. In 1895, Australia built the first hydropower station in the Southern Hemisphere. In the same year, the largest hydropower station at that time, Edward Dean Adams Hydropower Station was commenced at Niagara Falls. In 1905, a hydropower station with an installed capacity of 500 kW was completed on the Xindian River near Taipei, China. Then the first hydropower station in Chinese Mainland, Shilongba Hydropower Station with an installed capacity of 480 KW, which is still in operation till now, was put into operation in 1912.
In the first half of the 20th century, America and Canada had led the world in the field of hydropower engineering technology. In 1942, Grand Coulee Hydropower Station in the Washington State of America (with an installed capacity of 1974 MW) surpassed Hoover Dam (with an installed capacity of 1345 MW) built on the Colorado River in 1936 and became the largest hydropower station in the world at that time. In the 1960s to 1980s, large-scaled hydropower stations were mainly developed in Canada, the Soviet Union and Latin America.
In the 21th century, China and Brazil took the lead in the field of hydro power. In 1984, Itaipu Dam, which was located at the border between Brazil and Paraguay, was put into operation with an installed capacity of 12,600 MW. In 2012, the largest hydropower station in the world, Three Gorges Dam, was put into operation with an installed capacity of 22,400 MW. In this century, the installed capacity of hydropower stations keeps soaring.
It is no doubt that dam construction and hydro power have integrated into modern human civilization. Especially in modern society with striking contradiction in water resources, to construct dams is of great significance. When looking forward to the future, we believe that hydropower technology will inevitably play an important role in global economic growth and prosperity.