Abundant small hydropower dams more disruptive that large ones

By on June 27, 2013
A small hydropower plant in Fugong County discharges water from a tributary into the main channel of the Nu River. (Credit: Kelly Kibler)

Small hydropower plant in Fugong County discharges water (Credit: Kelly Kibler)

A new five-year study has led researchers from Oregon State University to conclude that small hydropower projects can negatively impact the environment more than large dams due to the cumulative damage that they cause, according to a report from the university.

The conclusion was based on research of the Nu River system in China, which supports many small hydroelectric projects because of its expansive number of tributaries.

The study shows that smaller hydroelectric projects have a tendency to disrupt streams, fisheries, wildlife and communities as a whole due to the disruption of natural water flow.

It was estimated that the total effect on habitats can be 100 times more severe from the construction of smaller hydroelectric projects as opposed to their larger counterparts.

Image: Small hydropower plant in Fugong County discharges water (Credit: Kelly Kibler)

 

About Adam Redling

Adam Redling is a contributing writer for the Environmental Monitor. He covers the latest news, studies and products in the field of environmental research.

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