Nature Conservancy to Sponsor World Hydropower Congress

by Emil Morhardt

Yesterday, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) announced that the Nature Conservancy would be one of the main sponsors of its World Hydropower Congress in Beijing next May. In an accompanying piece the Nature Conservancy’s Jeff Opperman explained why. It is an interesting question. I spent much of the two decades between 1975 and 1995 as an environmental consultant to hydropower developers, and the one constant was unrelenting opposition from almost every environmental group. Hydroelectric installations disrupt river flows, block river passage, often inundate great swaths of previously undeveloped watersheds, and do it in a way that is only optimistically renewable, at least where large storage reservoirs are involved; in time all reservoirs fill with sediment, and the projects revert to run-of-river facilities which are generally less valuable and less useful. Continue reading