Chapter 10: Hydropower management: electricity versus other values
Some say dams are the key to development – supplying water and electricity to the multitudes, fostering agriculture through irrigation and protecting vulnerable human populations against floods. There are also those who associate dams with the uprooting of many people, irreparable environmental damage and unfulfilled promises. Indeed, few issues are as contentious and divisive over energy and land use as the construction of dams. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), hydropower contributes 16 percent of electricity generation worldwide and about 85 percent of global renewable electricity; the agency maintains that the potential for hydropower is ‘considerable’ and foresees a 100 percent increase of capacity (up to 2000 gigawatt-hours (GWh)) and global generation of 7000 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2050 (IEA, 2012). The supply growth is expected to come about largely in developing countries and several significant projects are under way, such as the 6000-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River (to be completed 2017), as well as several large projects in Asia, including a massive plan in India to harness energy from the water in Himalayas. In Europe, more than 570 dams with hydroelectric power plants are planned for the Balkans, supported by Deutsche Bank, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (see Spiegel online, 17 January 2014).
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