hydroelectric dam Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images

Energie, economie, en ecologie

LONDEN – Om een toekomst met weinig koolstof veilig stellen en de klimaatverandering te beginnen aan te pakken heeft de wereld meer investeringen in hernieuwbare energie nodig. Maar hoe geraken we daar? Geen enkel systeem van energieopwekking is perfect, en zelfs projecten voor ‘groene’ energie moeten gegeven hun geografische voetafdruk zorgvuldig beheerd worden om een ‘energie-agglomeratie’ en de bijkomende effecten op landschappen, rivieren, en oceanen te verzachten.

Waterkracht is een van de helderste voorbeelden van hoe de locatie van infrastructuur voor hernieuwbare energie onbedoelde gevolgen kan hebben. Door stuwdammen gegenereerde energie is momenteel de grootste bron van hernieuwbare energie op aarde, en levert ongeveer twee keer zoveel energie als alle andere bronnen van hernieuwbare energie samen. Zelfs met een enorme expansie van projecten voor zonne- en windenergie gaan veel voorspellingen er vanuit dat het behalen van de mondiale klimaatdoelen tegen 2040 een toename van minstens 50% in waterkrachtcapaciteit zal vereisen.

Ondanks de grote belofte van waterkracht echter moet er bij de bouw van stuwdammen met significante economische en ecologische consequenties rekening gehouden worden. Barrières die de waterloop beperken werken bijvoorbeeld bijzonder verstorend voor visserij in binnenlanden. Er wordt jaarlijks meer dan zes miljoen ton vis gevangen in stroomgebieden waar waterkrachtcentrales geprojecteerd zijn. Zonder de juiste planning kunnen deze projecten een cruciale bron van voedsel en inkomen voor meer dan 100 miljoen mensen op het spel zetten.

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