People have long harnessed the power of water as a means to energy security. Today, China’s Three Gorges Dam—which boasts the world's largest instantaneous generating capacity— creates as much electricity as roughly 18 nuclear power 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.
Likewise, the Conservancy collaborated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other partners to create the Sustainable Rivers Project—which focuses on modifying dam operations in a way that enhances economic benefits as well as habitat conditions for the plants and animals that depend on downstream river flows.