Integrating the Effects of Forest Cover into Energy Estimates and Land Use Planning
The new study highlights the need for hydropower planners to take regional forest cover into account when calculating the project's potential to supply electricity.
"The problem is that power plant designers typically ignore the effects of future deforestation. Or, if they do consider it, they presume that deforestation will increase the amount of water flowing to the dams," explains Stickler. "When we incorporated the effects of deforestation at the regional level, our results show quite the opposite."
The scientists urge energy planners to consider these results - and the impact of changes in rainforest cover -when assessing the viability of hydropower projects. They also urge policy-makers to pay attention to the energy costs of development efforts that clear forests for new roads and ranches, as well as the energy benefits of programs that incentivize farmers and ranchers to limit deforestation.
"In the last year, Brazil has made tremendous progress towards ending deforestation, bringing clearing rates down to 24% of the historical average," says Nepstad. "But these numbers are starting to creep up again, and everyone should be concerned. Ending deforestation should be viewed as an issue of national energy security."
"We show that the policies that maximize conservation here also maximize power generation. It's not just conceptual, we have numbers on it," adds Costa. "This finding gives me hope. Sustainable development is not only possible, but achievable."
|Contact: Ashley Simons|