The simple technique of this dam is a big victory for green energy

Some countries are already taking advantage of this potential. Since 2000, 36 dams in the United States have installed turbines, adding more than 500 megawatts of renewable energy power generation capacity.There is even greater potential: A 2016 report by the US Department of Energy found that an additional 4.8 GW of electricity can be generated by Retrofit unpowered dams In the next three decades. In places such as the United States and Western Europe, the dam construction boom in the middle of the 20th century has long since subsided, and retrofitting may be the only option for the government to seek more hydropower. “If there is a dam to stay in place, let us try to find a solution and work together to find the best solution,” McManamey said.

But before anyone starts upgrading all these dams, they may want to look at these numbers again. It is not easy to accurately predict how much electricity the reconstructed facility will actually generate, because it turns out that not every dam is suitable for reconstruction. Suppose someone wants to install turbines in a dam that is built to hold water so that it can be used to irrigate farmers’ fields. During the growing season, large amounts of water usually flow directly to crops instead of flowing through dams to generate electricity. Or the water level in the area where it is located is only enough to generate electricity for part of the year. Suddenly, those modified dams did not seem to be a smart idea.

A recent study U.S. Renovated DamAlso commissioned by the Ministry of Energy, they found that their forecasts for electricity output are optimistic: on average, these forecasts are 3.6 times the actual output. Research has found that the most successful transformations are often concrete dams originally built to aid navigation. (Dams are often used to widen or deepen waterways to make it easier for ships to pass.) “This is a complicated problem. This is not an easy problem to solve,” McManamey said.

But in Brazil and other countries, dams are still on the agenda. “If they want to develop and really improve the living standards of the entire country, they need energy. This is its long-term and short-term,” said Michael Goulding, a senior aquatic scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society.The country’s most recent 10-year energy plan outlines nine new large dams Scheduled to be completed Before 2029. Rather than hope that these dams will not be built, it is important to ensure that proper research is conducted to ensure that they are constructed in a way that minimizes damage to the environment, Goulding said: “Usually the environmental impact framework is not very good. They are. An area of ​​interest near the dam will be defined, which does not include all downstream and upstream influences.”

The Belo Monte Dam is a good example of how much impact the dam has on the surrounding environment. The dam complex redirects 80% of the flow of the Xingu River to the 62-mile long river bend. This part of Xingu also happens to be the only known wild habitat for the zebra Pleco-a striking striped catfish that is very popular among aquarists. “This species is at great risk of extinction,” said Tiago BA Couto, a postdoctoral researcher at the Tropical Rivers Laboratory at Florida International University. The impact of the dam on fish species is well documented elsewhere in the world.In Washington State, the Elwha Dam disconnected the upper and lower watersheds of Elwha, reducing 90% of salmon’s available habitatSome species native to the river have completely disappeared, while populations of other species, such as Chinook, have fallen to a fraction of their previous levels.

However, in the end, even large dams may lose their usefulness. In 2014, the last remains of the Elva Dam were permanently demolished.Chinook salmon that has been locked behind two dams for decades is now slowly On the way back Upstream. A full recovery is expected to take decades. “The dam will not last forever,” Cotto said. “Many are rich, but they don’t provide the minimum benefits they should provide.”

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