Do the benefits of sustainable hydropower outweigh the costs?
ရကာတာေဆာက္လုပ္ေရး ကုန္က်စရိတ္ကခန္႕မွန္းတာထက္ ပိုသြားတာကို Oxford
ယင္းအတြက္ လွ်ပ္စစ္ေရအား အသင္းကျပန္ေခ်ပခဲ့တာကိုသင္ခန္းစာရယူႏိုင္တယ္၊
A recent report from researchers at Oxford University questions the economic viability of large-scale hydropower development, highlighting cost and schedule over
runs. Entitled “the actual costs of hydropower megaprojects development”, the paper overlooks the multiple benefits of these projects.
We take a chance to review some fundamentals of hydropower and the return on investment of these projects.
Dams are large-scale infrastructure projects that can serve a number of purposes. Only about 20 per cent of the world’s dams actually have any hydropower associated with their reservoirs. Like any big infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, airports and hospitals, dams take time to build and can run over schedule and budget.
ရရွည္ရင္းနွီးမႈတရပ္အျမင္နဲ့ ခဳံၾကည့္ရင္ေရအားလွ်ပ္စစ္ကသား စဉ္မ်ိုးဆက္ထိ စိတ္ခ်စြာသုံးလို႕ရတဲ့စြမ္းအားျဖစ္ျခ
In the paper, the authors specifically point towards schedule issues with big projects, pointing out that “projects that take longer have greater cost overruns; bigger projects take longer.”
The question should not be “does the project overrun?”, but rather “is the project a good investment?”. And when all things are considered, hydropower can make a powerful case as a long-term investment, by delivering sustainable energy and water services for multiple generations. Unfortunately, the report’s authors seem to have completely ignored the multiple benefits of hydropower, and so presents an unbalanced picture of the economic value versus the investment risks.
Hydropower produces 76% of the world’s renewable electricity, providing a clean, local and significant energy source that can help developing countries to improve the lives of their peoples at an affordable price. It is unaffected by volatile and rising fuel prices, which can have dramatic impacts on the viability of fossil power technologies, not to mention the avoided pollution.
စ်းနႈန္းခ်ိုသာျပီး စ်းနႈန္းလႈပ္ခါတာမရွိတဲ့အျပင္ပတ္ဝန္း က်င္ကိုလဲမညစ္ညမ္းေစရပါ၊
၁၀၈ နွစ္ သက္တမ္းရွည္ျပီး ၾကံ့ခိုင္တဲ့ေရကာတာလဲရွိတယ္၊
Hydropower projects do have high upfront outlays during the construction phase, but they have very low running costs and operate for many decades. For example, the Ames plant in Colorado was commissioned in 1906, and the powerhouse is still in service 108 years later. A recent study by the International Renewable Energy Agency on the levelised cost of energy shows hydropower to be the least cost option of all the clean energies.
A modern technology with multiple benefits
The report’s authors label hydropower stations as “dinosaurs”. Why choose this word to describe a proven and advanced technology? The claim is a bit disingenuous. Modern hydropower operating efficiencies can reach 95 per cent, and turbine availability for operation can exceed this percentage. This is unmatched by any other source of power generation.
Modern hydropower operating efficiencies can reach 95 per cent, and turbine availability for operation can exceed this percentage.”
ေရအားမွ လွ်ပ္စစ္အား အေျပါင္းမွာ စြမ္းအား ၉၅% (၁၀ဝ%အျပည္အဝနီးပါး)ကိုရနိုင္
(အျခါးနည္းနဲ့ဒီေလာက္စြမ္းအား % မရႏိုင္)
Turbine တာဘိုင္အင္ဂ်င္နဲ့ဆိုရင္ေရအားမွ ဒီထက္ပိုရနိုင္
Hydropower’s almost immediate operating flexibility supports thermal (coal, nuclear) plants, which take much longer to start up and shut down. This flexibility can also back-up variable feed-in from wind, solar and marine sources. In short, hydropower’s unique characteristics will place it at the centre of our future clean energy systems.
In addition, hydropower projects often provide many water-related benefits, such as flood and drought control, improved navigation and water supply for agriculture, industry and urban consumers.
Itaipu and Three Gorges have delivered exceptional value
The report criticises the world’s largest power stations: Itaipu (described erroneously as being within Brazil) and the Three Gorges project on the Yangtze River in China.
The bi-national Itaipu station, on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, generates almost 100TWh of electricity annually – more than the total power generation in Belgium, Austria or Switzerland collectively.
The publicity for the launch of the report claims that “despite producing much-needed electricity, Itaipu will likely never pay back the costs incurred to build it”.
Today, Itaipu provides 72% of Paraguay’s electrical energy and 17% of Brazil’s. The powerplant experienced a cost overrun during construction, but was completed on schedule and has delivered more power than originally projected. All debts will be paid by 2023 according to the 1973 binational Treaty that created the project.
This bi-national partnership has brought stability and economic development to the border territory since it has been in place, and the station is forecast to operate for at least 60 more years.
3 Gorges ရဲ့အဓိက ရည္ရြယ္တာကေရၾကီးတာကိုထိန္းဘို႕ပါ၊
၂၀၀၇ ရကာတာမလုပ္ခင္ ၁၉၉၉တုံးကေရၾကီးခဲ့လို႕ ၁၆၆ ဘီလ်ံ ယြမ္ ဆုံးရွုံးခဲ့တယ္၊
ဒီ ဆုံးရွုံးမႈတၾကိမ္ထည္း ရဲ့ပမာဏဟာ ရကာတာ တခုလုံးရဲ့ေဆာက္လုပ္မႈကုန္က်စရိတ္နဲ႕ညီမွ်တယ္၊
In the case of the Three Gorges project in China, the primary purpose of the dam and its reservoir is not electricity production, but flood control. Before its completion in 2007, a major flood in 1999 passed through the Three Gorges site. The flood caused economic losses to the region of RMB 166 billion in a single high flow event, a cost equivalent to the total investment cost of the Three Gorges project.
၂၀၀၇ မွာ ရကာတာကို ဆာက္ျပီးသြားတာက တႏွစ္ေစာတဲ့အျပင္၊ဘတ္ဂ်က္ရာထားေငြမွ
၃၀ ဘီလ်ံ ယြမ္လဲ သက္သာခဲ့တယ္၊
In 2007, the Three Gorges project was commissioned, one-year ahead of schedule and RMB 30 billion under budget. When another flood occurred in 2010, the project was in operation and managed to attenuate the peak flow, averting an estimated economic impact of a further RMB 26.6 billion.
In addition to the flood control services, the power station generates an average of 88.2TWh per year, which brings annual income of RMB 22 billion. The project will have recouped its total investment cost by 2020, based on electricity revenues alone, and is expected to continue generating income at and above these rates for the majority of this century.
Further still, the project has opened up reliable and effective navigation for trade in the upstream municipality of Chongqing and others to the south-west. Navigation has increased by more than four times and the cost of overall transportation has decreased by a third. Again, this shows that hydropower projects bring benefits beyond the supply of vital electricity.
ႏွစ္စဥ္ ၈၈ .၂ TWH လွ်ပ္စစ္ စြမ္းအားကိုထုတ္ႏိုင္ျပီး ၂၂ ဘီလ်ံ ယြမ္ဝင္ေငြရတယ္၊ ၂၀၂၀ ဆို အရင္းေက်မယ္၊ (88.2 billion KWH)
A fundamental tool for developing countries
When hydropower can deliver to developing countries vital electricity, along with additional
ရလႊမ္းတာေရေခ်ာက္ေသြ႕တာကိုထိန္းသိမ္းႏိုင္ျပီး စီးပြါးေရး ကိုက်ယ္ျပန္႕စြာလုပ္ႏိုင္
services of water management and increased economic activities at significant scale, it is, at best, inappropriate for the report’s authors to have referred to the technology as ‘ineffective’.
Governments in developing countries continue to turn to major hydropower projects for their energy needs because the resource is local, the technology reliable, the scale considerable and
the resulting electricity price economical and predictable.
At a time when energy and water services are at the forefront of policy agendas around the world, hydropower is an investment that makes a lot of sense.
About the author
The IHA communications team manages content for this website, and also co-ordinates the IHA communications network – a worldwide community of hydropower communications specialists.
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