Dr. David Hyndman Joins Effort to "Rethink Hydropower".

  • Feb 15, 2017

EES Chair and renowned hydrologist David Hyndman is part of a team from MSU working to improve hydropower and food production while lessening the environmental and social damage caused by dams. The project is titled “Rethinking Dams: Innovative Hydropower Solutions to Achieve Sustainable Food and Energy Production and Sustainable Communities.” This four-year, $2.6 million grant is being funded by the National Science Foundation and lead by Principal Investigator Emilio Moran.

Hydroelectric dam production is on the rise in developing countries, but this construction is disrupting river ecology and causing substantial deforestation. Food systems nearby are impacted and downstream populations are feeling the effects. In addition, national energy priorities often outweigh concerns on the ground in local communities.

Due to the large amount of hydropower development, the Amazon River Basin provides the perfect setting for this research. After a complete assessment of the hydropower landscape, scientists will work to marry that development to a suite of benefits that will outweigh the economic, environmental and social costs.  The team includes MSU civil engineers, hydrogeologists, climatologists, economists and biologists.

“This project provides our interdisciplinary team with an excellent opportunity to examine the potential impacts of different hydropower development scenarios for the Amazon River Basin on streamflow, power production, fisheries and communities that live in the basin”, according to Hyndman, who is also project co-investigator.

The ultimate aim is to increase the acceptability of hydropower development in the United States, Europe and across the world. Moran added “If we are to make hydropower part of the renewable energy grid, we need better hydropower solutions. This is what we are after.”