the past, some developers have been resistant to this sort of strategic
planning, believing that it would cause delays and be expensive to
implement. But, as the Conservancy’s latest report—The Power of Rivers: A Business Case—demonstrates, accounting for environmental,
social and economic risks up front can minimize delays and budget
overruns while reducing the possibility of lawsuits. More important, for
developers and investors, employing a holistic or system-wide approach
leverages economies of scale in dam construction.
financial and development benefits of such planning enable the process
to pay for itself. Our projections show that projects sited using a
Hydropower by Design approach can meet their energy objectives, achieve a
higher average rate of return and reduce adverse effects on
environmental resources. With nearly $2 trillion of investment in
hydropower anticipated between now and 2040, the benefits of smarter
planning represent significant value.
hydropower planning does not require builders to embrace an entirely new
process. Instead, governments and developers can integrate principles
and tools into existing planning and regulatory processes. Similar
principles are being applied to wind, solar and other energy sources
with large geographic footprints.
Completing the transition to
a low-carbon future is perhaps the preeminent challenge of our time,
and we won’t succeed without expanding renewable-energy production. In
the case of hydropower, if we plan carefully using a more holistic
approach, we can meet global goals for clean energy while protecting
some 100,000 kilometers of river that would otherwise be disrupted. But
if we don’t step back and see the whole picture, we will simply be
trading one problem for another.