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Posts tagged "hydropower"
Iceland’s 300+ glaciers losing 11 billion tons of ice a year. Several have already melted away, and many more will disappear in the next decade.
Above, one of Iceland’s longest bridges now stands over dry land. Via Daily Climate.

Threatens millions of lives. Possible government corruption. China has 87,000 dams and reservoirs, many used for hydropower and thousands already on fault zone. Dam breaks from earthquakes exacerbate environmental destruction.

"More than 130 large dams built, under construction, or proposed in western China’s seismic hazard zones could trigger disastrous environmental consequences such as earthquakes and giant waves, finds a new report from the Canadian watchdog group Probe International.

The report shows that 98.6 percent of the dams being constructed in western China are located in high to moderate seismic hazard zones.

The location of large dams near clusters of recorded earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 4.9, and especially when the earthquake focal points are also close to the surface, “is cause for grave concern,” said the report’s author geologist “John Jackson.”

John Jackson is a pseudonym for a geologist with detailed knowledge of western China who wishes to remain anonymous to protect his sources.

In a worst-case scenario, Jackson reports, dams could collapse, creating a giant wave that would inundate everything in its path, including downstream dams, causing great loss of life and property.

Should a dam suffer catastrophic collapse, says Probe International Executive Director Patricia Adams, Chinese citizens could direct their anger to the hydropower industry for threatening their lives with dangerous dams.

To pierce the Chinese government’s secrecy over its dam building, the Probe report overlays a Chinese map of dam locations with U.S. Geological Survey earthquake data and a United Nations’ seismic hazard map.”

More at Environmental News

The costs of growing populations. One of the toughest environmental arguments to make. Do you side with 23 million people who need electricity, or do you side with 20,000 indigenous people and a sliver of the Amazon rainforest and all its riches? Should they turn to nuclear power, and if so, how to pay for, monitor, and maintain it?

The proposed Belo Monte Dam in northern Brazil would be the third largest hydro-electric dam in the world in terms of electrical output. The dam would be 3.75 miles long and generate over 11,000 megawatts, which could power up to 23 million homes. Government officials say that the dam is an essential step in supplying energy to the nation’s growing population. However, the project is rife with environmental conflicts. The project requires the clearing of 588 acres of Amazon jungle, the displacement of over 20,000 indigenous people, flooding a 193 square mile area, and drying up a 62 mile stretch of the Xingu River.

More here.

See also Al Jazeera’s comprehensive article on the dam, here

"It’s time to move on" is Ecotricity's brilliant new campaign for wind power.  

The march of progress: Ethiopia Moves Forward with Massive Nile Dam Project. The dam’s capacity is expected to be around 5,000 megawatts, which is about 5x the average nuclear power plant.

When completed in 2015, the Grand Millennium Dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa. It will also create the country’s largest artificial lake, with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters of water—twice the size of Lake Tana in Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

The needs of the many vs the needs of the few… Chief Raoni breaks down when he learns he’s lost a section of the Amazon river to a dam. No matter the context, it remains very difficult for me to see a man cry. 

Update: The site crashed


The chief Raoni cries when he learns that brazilian president Dilma released the beginning of construction of the hydroelectric plant of Belo Monte, even after tens of thousands of letters and emails addressed to her and which were ignored as the more than 600 000 signatures. That is, the death sentence of the peoples of Great Bend of the Xingu river is enacted. Belo Monte will inundate at least 400,000 hectares of forest, an area bigger than the Panama Canal, thus expelling 40,000 indigenous and local populations and destroying habitat valuable for many species - all to produce electricity at a high social, economic and environmental cost, which could easily be generated with greater investments in energy efficiency.

It was brought to my attention that there is a petition we all can sign to help support these indigenous people and the Amazon. Please take a second to check it out below or comparable petitions that are available. Thank you.

Just last month, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and film maker James Cameron (Alien, Terminator, Avatar) visited the Chief and his village.

(via swoodsies)

Anyone know if this is this a hydropower plant? Update: It’s a water pump for a mine. It’s called the Laxey Wheel:


(via eldowning, k—c)

Chile approves huge dam project on wild rivers, opening remote Patagonia to development

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of the NRDC appeals. Patagonia is a huge mountain chain in South America. It’s the source of thousands of rivers. The Chilean slopes are of the most beautiful places on planet earth.

The commissioners — all political appointees in President Sebastian Pinera’s government — concluded a three-year environmental review by approving five dams on the Baker and Pascua rivers in Aysen, a mostly roadless region of remote southern Patagonia where rainfall is nearly constant and rivers plunge from Andean glaciers to the Pacific Ocean through green valleys and fjords.

But, in reading through the article, I’m having a hard time forming an argument against the project. Only three families will be relocated and only 14,000 acres will be clear-cut and flooded. That’s not much. There are few animals there, none particularly vulnerable.

Chile’s economy and population is exploding. Wealth is increasing, and they frankly need more electricity. Most of the country’s electricity comes from hydro, rather than more destructive coal or risky nuclear power. This dam will generate 2.75 gigwatts of power (trust me, that’s really a lot of power!). On top of this, the government and the investors will create jobs, major infrastructure, and much needed investments in education. These are substantial concessions, which are quite rare in development projects of this scale. 

The Aysen region will receive less expensive energy, jobs, scholarships and $350 million in infrastructure, including seaports and airports, said HidroAysen’s executive vice president, Daniel Fernandez.

Source: WaPo

UPDATE: Bloomberg is reporting loud protests.