Among 'green' energy, hydropower is the most dangerous

October 25, 2017, The University of Hong Kong
Brazil has the 2nd largest hydropower capacity (after China), and generates more than 70% of its electricity from hydropower. Tucuruí Dam was the first major hydroelectric dam in the Brazilian Amazon, and is currently the world’s fifth largest power station. Although considered 'green' energy, hydropower produces substantial amounts of greenhouse gases and has destroyed some of the most pristine habitats around the planet - especially in tropical rainforests. Credit: Museu Virtual de Tucuruí

Many governments are promoting a move away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources. However, in a study published today, scientists highlight some of the ecological dangers this wave of 'green' energy poses.

"We know that burning is damaging the environment and warming the climate," said Dr. Luke Gibson, Honorary Assistant Professor of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. "But there are also dangers from the global proliferation of solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric dams."

The scientists compared the environmental impacts of hydro, solar, and wind energy. Hydropower does the most damage, the scientists found."Hydropower has degraded some of the most biologically rich habitats on our planet," said Professor William Laurance from James Cook University in Australia.

"Hydro projects are such a disaster for tropical rainforests that I don't consider them 'green' energy at all," added Laurance.Wind turbines and solar panels can also cause environmental harm, but on a much lower scale compared to hydropower. However, these industries have expanded enormously in the past decade.

In total, renewable energy accounts for a quarter of global electricity generation, and China is the industry leader - producing 28% of hydro, 26% of solar, and 35% of wind energy.

Given the risks, it is critical to mitigate the environmental impacts of future renewable energy deployment.

"We need to keep a close eye on these 'green' energy developments to ensure new projects don't harm wildlife or sensitive habitats - particularly along migratory routes where could kill many birds or bats," said Gibson.

"Renewable energy has the potential to balance the conflict between our growing energy needs and environmental security," said Gibson. "We must identify and mitigate the ecological impacts of to ensure that its future is truly green."

Explore further: High renewable electricity growth continued in 2015

More information: Luke Gibson et al. How Green is 'Green' Energy?, Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2017.09.007

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7 comments

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fuckyouyoufuckingfuck
2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 25, 2017
Among 'green' energy, hydropower is... the only one that actually creates any significant power.
ab3a
2.7 / 5 (3) Oct 25, 2017
The question should be how much damage does hydropower make in comparison to the alternatives?

Eikka
2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 25, 2017
The question should be how much damage does hydropower make in comparison to the alternatives?



What alternatives? All the intermittent renewable sources require hydropower to back them up.
PTTG
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 25, 2017
This article smells like propaganda. Consider:

"We need to keep a close eye on these 'green' energy developments to ensure new projects don't harm wildlife or sensitive habitats - particularly along migratory routes where wind turbines could kill many birds or bats," said Gibson.

Smoke from coal plants kills many more animals than wind turbines do, but that goes unmentioned. I don't have the expertise to know if the study is fundamentally flawed, it's clear that the author is pursuing a narrative that green energy is bad.
humy
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 26, 2017
This article smells like propaganda. ....

... it's clear that the author is pursuing a narrative that green energy is bad.


Yes, after careful reading of this link, I think you are definitely right about that. This link IS just a load of anti-green energy propaganda and thus not a true science link. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if this author has some sort of financial and/or political vested interest in the fossil fuel industry.
If this isn't just a load of anti-green energy propaganda, it would be a big mystery why the author didn't do the OBVIOUS thing of COMPARING the damage done by green energy with that of non-green energy; OBVIOUSLY it is how those two things COMPARE that is relevant here, not the absolute damage from each without comparison.
xponen
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 26, 2017
Of course the author intended to find negatives in green energy, but it doesn't mean what they found was false. We should practice accepting "reality" and not simply deny anything that didn't agree with our believes. Of course, the actual "reality" is much bigger than this one study, the fossil fuel energy itself can destroy every animal & habitat we know today.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 26, 2017
Smoke from coal plants kills many more animals than wind turbines do...
...some sort of financial and/or political vested interest in the fossil fuel industry.
...the fossil fuel energy itself can destroy every animal & habitat we know today.
Intermittent renewables are not alternative to fossil fuels, they complement each other in a symbiotic relationship.
So let's face the reality: wind and solar are in bed with fossil fuels, mainly with coal and gas(fracking).

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