Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No stopping big hydro projects, despite Lao veto

Niluksi Koswanage in Reuters: A surge in mega-hydropower projects across the world in the coming decade will only be affected marginally by last week's decision to delay building a large dam across the Mekong, Southeast Asia's longest river.

Hydropower remains a proven way to produce electricity on a large scale, and some governments are extremely reluctant to opt for alternatives such as nuclear. But last week's decision could mean there will be increased focus on minimizing environmental and social costs of new hydro projects, analysts say.

Laos suspended the $3.5 billion Xayaburi dam project on the lower Mekong, awaiting a study into the environmental impact of the river, the world's largest inland fishery.

The 1,260-megawatt project has been hugely controversial and underlined growing global concerns that mega-dams were a damaging and outdated way of generating power. Protests from India to Brazil and Malaysia to China have called for a halt to massive building programs....

A narrow spot in the Mekong River in Laos, shot by Feral Arts, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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