Dam Damage Done

A dried-up reservoir behind a dam in North Karnataka, India. LAKSHMIPRASAD S. / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

A couple of our earliest posts was about life around a dam in India, so the photo heading this article rings a bell of sorts:

As Projects Decline, the Era of Building Big Dams Draws to a Close

Escalating construction costs, the rise of solar and wind power, and mounting public opposition have led to a precipitous decrease in massive new hydropower projects. Experts say the world has hit “peak dams,” which conservationists hail as good news for riverine ecosystems.

The end of the big dam era is approaching.

Numerous recently published reports reflect this planet-altering fact. One study, conducted by scholars at the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, found that construction of large dams globally fell from a late-1970s peak of about 1,500 a year to around 50 a year in 2020. “There will not be another ‘dam revolution’ to match the scale of the high-intensity dam construction experienced in the early to middle 20th century,” the 2021 study concluded.

Data compiled by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that promotes renewable energy, including hydropower, show that in the 21st century, newly installed hydropower capacity peaked in 2013 at 45,000 megawatts a year and then dropped every year but one through 2021, when it reached only 18,900 megawatts. Similarly, investments in new hydropower dropped from a peak of $26 billion in 2017 to an estimated $8 billion in 2022, according to IRENA.

Read the whole article here.

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