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Energies 2014, 7(9), 6063-6082;

False Shades of Green: The Case of Brazilian Amazonian Hydropower

Environmental Studies Program/Economics Department, Washington and Lee University, Holekamp Hall 206, Lexington, VA 24450, USA
Department of Fishery Science, Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Av. Rodrigo Otávio 3000, Manaus, AM 69077-000, Brazil
Department of Biology, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450, USA
Programa de Pós-graduação em Diversidade Biológica e Conservação (PPGDBC), Centro de Ciências e Tecnologias para a Sustentabilidade (CCTS), Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), Rod. João Leme dos Santos, km 110 – Sorocaba, São Paulo 18052-780, Brazil
UNISANTA, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Sustentabilidade de Ecossistemas Costeiros e Marinhos, Rua Oswaldo Cruz, 277 (Boqueirão), Santos (SP) 11045-907, Brazil
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 15 August 2014 / Accepted: 1 September 2014 / Published: 16 September 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Transitions and Economic Change)
Full-Text   |   PDF [563 KB, uploaded 17 March 2015]


The Federal Government of Brazil has ambitious plans to build a system of 58 additional hydroelectric dams in the Brazilian Amazon, with Hundreds of additional dams planned for other countries in the watershed. Although hydropower is often billed as clean energy, we argue that the environmental impacts of this project are likely to be large, and will result in substantial loss of biodiversity, as well as changes in the flows of ecological services. Moreover, the projects will generate significant greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and decay of organic matter in the reservoirs. These emissions are equivalent to the five years of emissions that would be generated by gas powered plants of equivalent capacity. In addition, we examine the economic benefits of the hydropower in comparison to new alternatives, such as photovoltaic energy and wind power. We find that current costs of hydropower exceed alternatives, and the costs of costs of these alternatives are likely to fall substantially below those of hydropower, while the environmental damages from the dams will be extensive and irreversible. View Full-Text
Keywords: Amazonian dams; biodiversity; fishery dynamics; extinction; environmental policy; energy policy Amazonian dams; biodiversity; fishery dynamics; extinction; environmental policy; energy policy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kahn, J.R.; Freitas, C.E.; Petrere, M. False Shades of Green: The Case of Brazilian Amazonian Hydropower. Energies 2014, 7, 6063-6082.

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