The true cost of hydro-power

  • File ACJCE
  • File Jan 22, 2024


The true cost of hydro-power is a complex calculation that requires consideration of several factors beyond the direct cost of building and operating a hydro-power plant. Hydropower is often touted as ‘clean’ and ‘cheap’ source of renewable energy, but there is plenty of evidence that reservoirs of large dams could release huge quantities of greenhouse gasses and their costs to the society may not be economically feasible. Dams destroy riverine ecosystems and biodiversity. They create conflicts between upper and lower riparians.
Social impacts of forced resettlements and involuntary migrations both upstream and downstream of large dams are well documented. Studies also show that the dam builders systematically exaggerate their benefits and underestimate the various costs of dams — such as the costs accrued due to delays, debt servicing, greenhouse emissions, and the social/environmental impact of these dams. While there is plenty of literature on dams and their costs in general, these do not provide an easy way for policymakers and advocacy groups to estimate the ‘true cost of hydro’, which would allow comparison with alternative options of power generation, water supply, flood control, and ecosystem management.
In this context, ZiZAK, with its partners, recently concluded a study on the lifecycle of large hydropower projects.
Read More Here
1. Hydro-costing Methodology
2. Case Studies – True Cost of Tarbela & NJHP