Articles on Hydropower

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The San Pedro Mezquital River is the last free-flowing river in Mexico’s western Sierra Madre. Octavio Aburto

Hydropower dams can harm coastal areas far downstream

Thousands of hydropower dams are under construction around the world. New research shows that by cutting off sediment flow, these dams can have big ecological effects on far-off bays and deltas.
These photovoltaics panels provide this village with energy now, but they could become obsolete when the main grid arrives. (Shutterstock)

The future of renewable infrastructure is uncertain without good planning

Small-scale renewable energy projects can power rural areas not connected to the main grid. But investors may hesitate if future electrification remains unpredictable.
After 48 hours of frantic effort, Brazilian rescue workers have called off their search for survivors at a collapsed dam in Minas Gerais state. AP Photo/Leo Correa

Dam collapse at Brazilian mine exposes grave safety problems

Nearly 1,800 Brazilian dams are at risk of failure, according to the government. Fixing them is expensive – but ignoring aging dams can have considerable social, economic and environmental costs.
Munduruku tribal people are demanding that Brazil’s government respect their land rights. AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

Amazon deforestation, already rising, may spike under Bolsonaro

Brazil's new president could clear the way for plans to develop remote areas around the Tapajos River basin over the objections of the indigenous people who live there.
Survivors of the dam disaster take refuge at a temporary shelter in Laos’s Attapeu province. ABC Laos News/EPA

The Laos disaster reminds us that local people are too often victims of dam development

Images of the aftermath of the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy dam collapse in Laos went around the world. But many other dam projects harm locals and the environment in less visible ways.
Small aircraft carry scientists high above the Southern Alps to survey glacier changes. Hamish McCormick/NIWA

A bird’s eye view of New Zealand’s changing glaciers

Forty years of continuous end-of-summer snowline monitoring of New Zealand's glaciers brings the issue of human-induced climate change into tight focus.
Rising seas, harsher weather, rainier days. The impacts of climate change make it harder for Caribbean countries to plan their transition toward renewable energy sources. Ricardo Rojas/Reuters

Climate change may scuttle Caribbean’s post-hurricane plans for a renewable energy boom

The 2017 hurricane season showed that Caribbean nations urgently need more resilient power grids. But the effects of climate change – including more severe storms – complicate the shift to renewables.
The potential clean energy sources are all around Sydney, just waiting to be harnessed. Collage by Rocco Furfaro

Sydney’s closer to being a zero-carbon city than you think

Sun, wind, waste biomass, geothermal, tides and waves: all these energy sources in Sydney's backyard add up to a zero-carbon energy solution for the city.

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