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Study Examines Pros and Cons of Hydropower

Hydropower can generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases but can cause environmental and social harms, such as damaged wildlife habitat, impaired water quality, impeded fish migration, reduced sediment transport, and diminished cultural and recreation benefits of rivers. A new River Research and Applications study considers these issues as they relate to a hydropower project undergoing relicensing in California.

Thursday, September 6, 2018 4:02 am EDT
"Reducing hydropower generation in order to restore natural river conditions is often considered too costly by hydropower operators, but those costs might be lessened by taking advantage of complex electricity markets and providing grid-regulating ancillary services, especially in regions with high penetrations of renewable energy like wind and solar"

Hydropower can generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases but can cause environmental and social harms, such as damaged wildlife habitat, impaired water quality, impeded fish migration, reduced sediment transport, and diminished cultural and recreation benefits of rivers. A new River Research and Applications study considers these issues as they relate to a hydropower project undergoing relicensing in California.

The study reveals that important positive and negative effects are not adequately examined in the hydropower relicensing process, and it points to opportunities to reduce the negative environmental impacts of hydropower without great economic penalties.

“Reducing hydropower generation in order to restore natural river conditions is often considered too costly by hydropower operators, but those costs might be lessened by taking advantage of complex electricity markets and providing grid-regulating ancillary services, especially in regions with high penetrations of renewable energy like wind and solar,” said author Joseph Rand, of the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley. “At the same time, environmental groups arguing for more natural river flows must consider the carbon-emissions cost of reduced hydropower being replaced with fossil fuel generation. Yet, these and other important aspects are typically overlooked in hydropower relicensing negotiations.”

Additional Information

Link to Study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rra.3354

About Journal

River Research and Applications , previously published as Regulated Rivers: Research and Management (1987-2001), is an international journal dedicated to the promotion of basic and applied scientific research on rivers. The journal publishes original scientific and technical papers on biological, ecological, geomorphological, hydrological, engineering and geographical aspects related to rivers in both the developed and developing world. Papers showing how basic studies and new science can be of use in applied problems associated with river management, regulation and restoration are encouraged as is interdisciplinary research concerned directly or indirectly with river management problems.

The journal also publishes concept papers (see ARENA Section) short communications, regional and thematic review articles, and book reviews. Special thematic issues are an important feature.

About Wiley

Wiley is a global leader in education and scholarly research. Our online scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, combined with our digital learning, assessment and certification solutions help universities, learned societies, businesses, governments and individuals increase the academic and professional impact of their work. For more than 210 years, we have delivered consistent performance to our stakeholders. The company's website can be accessed at www.wiley.com.

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