Deforestation Dries Up Dams, Threatening Hydropower
Deforestation may lead to electricity shortages in tropical rainforest regions that rely heavily on hydropower, as fewer trees mean less rainfall for hydropower generation, a study shows. Researchers had presumed that cutting down trees near dams increases the flow of water and hence energy production. This is because crops and pastures that replace trees take less water from the ground and lose less moisture by evaporation.
“If forest loss doubles by 2050 — that is, if 40 per cent of the Amazon or Xingu river watershed has been deforested by that date — rainfall loss will reduce Belo Monte’s energy production by one third over that projected,” -Stickler
Lead author Claudia Stickler and colleagues looked at the link between trees and power generation at Brazil’s Belo Monte hydropower complex, which is being built on the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon. It is set to be the third largest hydropower project in the world when it is completed in 2015 and is expected to supply 40 per cent of Brazil’s energy needs by 2020.