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THE GREAT RIVERS PARTNERSHIP brings together diverse stakeholders and best science to work toward sustainable management and development of the world’s most critical river systems.

 Hydropower

Zambezi River Authority gives tour of Kariba Dam - © Brian Richter/TNC

More sustainable approaches to hydropower development and operations can provide low-carbon energy while safeguarding important rivers and floodplains.

People have long harnessed the power of water as a means to energy security. Today, China’s Three Gorges Dam—with the world's largest instantaneous generating capacity—creates as much electricity as roughly 18 nuclear plants.

However, while hydropower may be the dominant renewable energy source, it often comes with significant costs. Dams can drastically affect fisheries and overall water quality, force the displacement of people living in river valleys, and cause a number of other issues that degrade the lands and waters of a river basin.

The Great Rivers Partnership and its collaborators have worked with officials around the world to plan more balanced dam operations and mitigate damage caused by those currently in use. The Nature Conservancy, for instance, has established formal relationships with Three Gorges Company and the Yangtze Water Resources Commission to find new ways to balance hydropower and conservation along China’s Yangtze River

Learn more about related efforts to modernize current infrastructure and support sustainable development in the future.

​​​​​​​​​​​​In June of 2015, Great Rivers launched the Center for Sustainable Hydropower. The Beijing-based center acts as a platform for exchanging knowledge, building capacity and researching new solutions that balance river conservation and hydropower.

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© Alberto Galeras  

​New Report: The Power of Rivers​

The Nature Conservancy white paper, "The Power of Rivers: Finding balance between energy and conservation in hydropower development," addresses the global expansion of hydropower dams and the need to find development scenarios that provide energy, but also work for communities and nature.

 
International Hydropower Congress. Photo © TNC

Influencing the Future of Hydropower

The Nature Conservancy sent a delegation of staff to the 5th World Hydropower Congress in Beijing to ensure that the importance of river conservation was fully represented in the dialogue about the future of global hydropower development and management. Learn more about the Congress.

Launch of the 'Center for Sustainable Hydropower' in China

The Nature Conservancy recently launched the Center for Sustainable Hydropower in Beijing. As part of the Great Rivers program, the Center will serve as a resource for governments, hydropower companies and other stakeholders seeking to better understand and incorporate conservation practices into hydropower development plans.

Hydropower Sustainability Fund (1.9MB, pdf)

Download this proposal for a finanancial mechanism on the Yangtze that focuses on social, economic and ecological outcomes.