A blog from University of Borås

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hydropower plants: friend or foe?

Hydropower plants are generally considered as one of the most environmentally friendly methods for production of electricity. That's correct, if all the ecological aspects of the dams are considered. However, there are some cases that the hydropower plants are foe than friend to the environment.

There is a recent debate on Brazilian hydropower plants. The dams in this country result in flooding of the forest area. It result in anaerobic digestion of the organic materials (wood, leaves, etc.) in the water and formation of biogas and methane, which is 21 times worse than CO2 for the environment. Some studies show these hydropower plants to threat the environment more than fossil fuels. I believe it is a complicated case and could be true or not, depending on how to consider the factors. However, what is clear is the necessity of considering all the ecological aspects of each project.

Another similar case is the largest lake in Iran with 5,200 km2 called Orumieh, which is drying most likely because of the bad management and the dams of the feeding rivers. Dryness of this lake will result in disaster for the entire region, in terms of the ecological aspects, spreading the salts, and not least the economy of the people in that area. Lets hope for a higher weight facctor fot the environment in considering such projects.

(A hydropower plant in Brazil. The photo taken from SR)

(The large Urmia lake that is drying now)

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