The tide has shifted on dams. Once a monument to our engineering prowess, there’s now widespread acknowledgment that dam-building comes with a long list of harms. Some of those can be reversed, as shown by the 1,200 dam removals in the past 20 years.
But the future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat, decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams produce have a role in our energy transition?
That’s a question some environmental groups and the hydropower industry have been discussing for the past few years, and it’s resulted in a joint effort to work together on increasing the renewable energy potential of existing dams while helping to minimize their environmental harm.
It’s just one effort to rethink the future of dams. Here’s what else to keep in mind:
The removal of Marmot Dam. (Photo by Portland General Electric, CC BY-ND 2.0)
— source therevelator.org | Tara Lohan | Oct 28, 2020