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Conserve Rainforests, Preserve Hydropower, Study Says

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Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by EMSL via Flickr

Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by EMSL via Flickr

Hydropower is perhaps one of the largest sources of renewable energy in the world. In the United States alone, it accounts for almost 49% of the entire renewable energy share of the country.

However, despite the apparent reliability of hydropower (compared to conventional renewable energy sources) a recent report suggests that it may actually be vitally dependent on one crucial environmental element. Research published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that hydropower critically relies on the existence of rainforests. They have shown that to improve, or to increase electricity produced via hydropower, it is essential to conserve any local habitat surrounding the area. It is perhaps the very first study to have tackled the possible impact of specific natural regions over energy production.

Some of you may have remembered the recent report about Brazil’s gargantuan undertaking in an expansive country-wide hydroelectric power project. Well, findings in the report states that by preserving rainforests in the Amazon River Basin for example, we could help increase the amount of energy produced by hydroelectric power plants in the area.

The answer to this analysis lies in the recent observation that rainforests actually hold a more important role in preserving rainfall cycles; as regular precipitation is needed to drive or make rivers flow. This implies that by protecting rainforests, the cycles are preserved, and hydroelectric energy generation could theoretically be kept at its most efficient maximum rate.

The study predicts that if deforestation continues to increase in the Amazon rainforest, the upcoming Belo Monte dam in Brazil would eventually decrease its generation capacity by almost a third, all due to a decrease in river flow caused by a disruption of natural precipitation cycles. At its worst, according to their simulations, if 40% deforestation does occur by the year 2050, rainfall will be lessened by 11-15%, which results to an additional 10% decrease in overall hydroelectric power generation capacity.

Being that hydropower currently holds a very significant share in global renewable energy capacity, the study is something that should really be taken seriously. As restated by the report, hydropower may well be the most used form of clean energy by the year 2030, and it is absolutely necessary to plan a course of action to preserve the working efficiency of hydropower stations as energy demand keeps booming.

But efficiency checking aside, there are still a lot more reasons to preserve rainforests than just to keep hydropower plants working efficiently, such as preventing floods caused by the absence of water-bearing and soil-holding trees. The hydropower efficiency issue though may perhaps be a huge pushing force, as it might finally get people, especially the influential ones, up on their feet to promote environmental preservation.

Christian Crisostomo
About Christian Crisostomo (265 Posts)

Christian Crisostomo is just your average tech geek that loves to see man's newest and most recent technological exploits. He holds great interest in the potentials of green technology, and is enthusiastic about the continuous development of environment-friendly alternative energy.


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