Matt Kondolf, BWC affilaite, professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, and co-director the of Global Metropolitan Studies Program. and colleagues argue the key to saving the planet’s tropical rivers lies in investing in renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind power rather than building large hydropower dams in a commentary published in Nature.

The commentary, written by lead author Rafael Schmitt, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, and a former visiting PhD student and postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley, Noah Kittner, a senior researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who earned his PhD in the Energy & Resources Group, Kondolf, and Daniel Kammen, chair of the Energy and Resources Group, calls for comprehensive cost–benefit analyses that consider regional factors and more research about how large dams affect river processes, such as fish migration and sediment transport. The authors also contributed to a report released by the World Wildlife Fund and the Nature Conservancy, Connected and Flowing. The report highlights global examples of best practices and opportunities for the generation of clean energy and the conservation of free flowing rivers.

The authors have been collaborating for several years to review data and develop models to assess the cost of alternatives to mega-dam projects in Southeast Asia, as well as their impacts on ecosystems and communities.

“Hydropower can play an important role as part of integrated power systems that incorporate other renewable energy technologies, resulting in overall cost-savings, reduced carbon emissions, and the preservation of livelihoods, in lieu of focusing solely on mega-dam projects,” said Kondolf.

Read the Nature commentary.

Read the article from College of Natural Resources.