As demand for clean energy soars across many developing nations, governments face difficult decisions. Should they spend billions of dollars on hydropower, or invest in emerging solar, wind and energy-storage technologies? With the price of renewable energy dropping over the past decade, strategic replacement of energy from future dam sites with renewable energy sources is becoming more economically viable.
UC Berkeley Riverlab PostDoc Alum Rafael Schmitt, with collaborators Noah Kittner, Mathias Kondolf, and Daniel Kammen, had the opportunity to highlight this vision in Nature, as a call to action for the participants of the bi-annual International Hydropower Congress. This article describes how low-carbon alternatives to hydro power can be coupled with strategic dam planning to maximize free-flowing rivers while providing low-carbon energy.