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Hydroelectric power's dirty secret revealed - Printable Version

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Hydroelectric power's dirty secret revealed - Desert Sleet - 03-21-2005

1429 24 February 2005
Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition
Duncan Graham-Rowe

"The Trip of a Lifetime to the Arctic

Contrary to popular belief, hydroelectric power can seriously damage the climate. Proposed changes to the way countries' climate budgets are calculated aim to take greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower reservoirs into account, but some experts worry that they will not go far enough.

The green image of hydro power as a benign alternative to fossil fuels is false, says Éric Duchemin, a consultant for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "Everyone thinks hydro is very clean, but this is not the case," he says.

Hydroelectric dams produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, and in some cases produce more of these greenhouse gases than power plants running on fossil fuels. Carbon emissions vary from dam to dam, says Philip Fearnside from Brazil's National Institute for Research in the Amazon in Manaus. "But we do know that there are enough emissions to worry about.

In a study to be published in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Fearnside estimates that in 1990 the greenhouse effect of emissions from the Curuá-Una dam in Pará, Brazil, was more than three-and-a-half times what would have been produced by generating the same amount of electricity from oil.

This is because large amounts of carbon tied up in trees and other plants are released when the reservoir is initially flooded and the plants rot. Then after this first pulse of decay, plant matter settling on the reservoir's bottom decomposes without oxygen, resulting in a build-up of dissolved methane. This is released into the atmosphere when water passes through the dam's turbines. "

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So, I guess Nuclear Power is the way forward?

When The Going Gets Tough ... The Tough Gets Going ...

- Pracs - 03-28-2005

Now isn't that good news for Oil rich shiekhs ! well and George W Bush )

"Allah does not change the state of people unless they change what is within themselves" Quran 1311