Healthy rainforests are critical to hydropower success

KEN004_JWhen news like this breaks it gives rainforest conservation a valuable boost. In a world struggling to meet the energy demands of the human population without increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s good to know pristine rainforest is absolutely essential for maximising the potential of hydropower… and exploitation has the opposite effect.

Better rainforest conservation = more hydro-power

Research revealed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proves how conserving Amazon River basin rainforests will increase the electricity generated by local hydropower projects. It’s the first piece of research to quantify the real-life impact of regional rainforest cover on energy production and it means rainforests are critical in generating the rain that fills rivers in tropical regions.

The scientific analysis also proves that continuing Amazon deforestation will reduce the efficiency of the vast Belo Monte dam in Brazil by as much as a third. And it reveals how the significant progress the country has made towards halting deforestation is measurably helping to secure Brazil’s energy supplies for the future.

Tapping into real-world economics

It’s great news for organisations like us, environmentalists and lobbyists, because it taps directly into the economies of countries, hitting them in the finances when the moral aspects of conservation don’t always have the power needed to change behaviour.

The potential loss of energy due to regional deforestation could even hamper Brazil’s efforts to meet its huge and looming gap in electrical power supplies. Looking at the specifics, the research shows that unchecked deforestation could lead to a shortfall leaving at least four million Brazilians short of power. The more rainforest is left alone, the more water will be in the Amazon basin’s rivers and the more projects like the Belo Monte dam will be able to generate. It’s a no-brainer. We hope it’ll give other nations pause before they plan even more deforestation.


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