System scale thinking: essential to increasing investment benefits, minimizing risk
renewable energy sources, it's critical that we consider early planning
and holistic approaches to avoid or mitigate impacts to our productive
lands and waters. While site-level mitigation of hydropower impacts can
help, a number of issues cannot be addressed effectively at the scale of
single dam. System-wide processes and tools are needed to identify
development and management options that are both strategic and low
impact, as well as financially competitive.
urgent demands to increase electricity generation are understandably
hesitant to embark on a strategic planning process if they believe it
will delay delivery of projects that can meet rising demand. By drawing
from integrated water-management, energy, and financial models,
Hydropower by Design (HbD) can deliver useful insights about development
and management options for governments, investors, and developers in a
relatively short period of time. And the potential to capture economic
values beyond energy generation is substantial.
In a set of
nine case study basins, HbD approaches increased the level of other
values—including water supply, flood-risk management, and habitat for
migratory fish—by 5 percent to more than 100 percent, compared to
business-as-usual approaches. This occurred generally with no or limited
reduction in energy generation—in some cases, there was a
considerable increase in generation.
The powerful insights
that an HbD approach can provide in the short-term, can deliver
long-term, positive outcomes capable of maintaining connectivity on
hundreds of thousands of river kilometers while realizing a broad range
of other financial and economic benefits.