Argument: Constructing dams burns massive quantities of fossil fuels

Issue Report: Hydroelectric dams


Carli Ghelfi. “Dam, that’s a lot of concrete and CO2”. Clean Tech Staff Blog. 9 June 2008 – For as little as $2.2 billion dollars and a whole lot of CO2-emitting concrete, you too can build your very own “clean power” four turbine dam in Pakistan.

The Pakistan Water and Development Authority (WAPDA) is working to ensure its Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project and other hydroelectric dam projects are seen through fruition.

The WAPDA claims to have several dam projects totaling just over 30,000 MW of power. The hydro projects are part of the Water Authority’s “Vision 2050 Program,” which aims to make the country energy-independent.

While 30,000 MW is an impressive amount of energy generation once these projects are up and up-and-running in another decade or two, there can also be a shocking amount of energy used in the construction process.

Just think of all the concrete, vehicles, disruption to the surrounding environment, transportation of people and supplies pouring into a project of this size over the course of 8 years—because that’s how long the Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project will take to build.

We can’t help but wonder how long it will take before the “clean” hydroelectric energy from these dams offsets all the energy and emissions of 8 years of construction.