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Mega-dam costs outweigh benefits, global building spree should end: experts

29 / 11 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

The Santo Antionio dam on the Madeira River in Roraima state, Brazil, went into operation in 2012. This Amazon mega-dam has produced massive floods upstream in Brazil and Bolivia, killing livestock, flooding rural villages and generating an international political crisis. Photo credit: Water Alternatives on Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA. Large hydroelectric dams are not worth the environmental and societal costs, and their benefits will continue to dwindle further as the climate changes, analysts argue. Hydroelectric power accounts for about 70 percent of the world’s renewable energy supply, yet large dams have been widely criticized for their disappointing energy outputs, short lifespans, and negative impacts on local ecosystems and people. After proliferating in North America and Europe in the mid-20th Century, hydroelectric fell out of favor there in the 1970s and more dams are being removed than constructed nowadays. But hydroelectric development didn’t stop, it moved location – thousands of dams have been built in developing nations since the 1970s, with many more planned. Publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Emilio Moran and colleagues from Michigan State University in the United States find that the true environmental and social costs of hydroelectric dams have been grossly underestimated. “If we included all the costs honestly, I doubt large hydropower projects would look as good,” said Moran, and would instead lead to the favoring of alternative energy sources. Dams have been linked to habitat degradation in the areas surrounding reservoirs and on newly created islands, harm to biodiversity and…

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