NY Times Letter to the Editor: Hydropower Is a Climate Solution

The National Hydropower Association published the following letter to the editor in the New York Times on hydropower as a climate solution:

Hydropower Is a Climate Solution

New York Times

January 22, 2020

To the Editor:

Re “Keep Our Rivers Flowing Freely,” by Macarena Soler, Monti Aguirre and Juan Pablo Orrego (Op-Ed, Dec. 30):

As American states continue to develop clean energy goals, it’s clear that hydropower is needed to decarbonize our national electricity grid. Despite assertions in the Op-Ed article, hydropower is an essential part of any climate solution and is not a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hydropower is unquestionably a clean, renewable resource. A 2019 study found that the global median greenhouse gas emission intensity of assessed hydropower reservoirs was lower than that of solar photovoltaic, and just slightly higher than nuclear and wind.

Emissions from water, to the extent they exist, are naturally occurring in all lakes, rivers and reservoirs. As such, it would be disingenuous to equate carbon emissions from the natural functioning of a freshwater reservoir ecosystem with a coal- or gas-fired power plant.

Hydropower is a long-term climate solution. And with only 3 percent of America’s 90,000 dams equipped to generate power, hydropower’s potential is immense. As a country, we should be looking to hydropower as an ally in the fight to combat climate change and for a carbon-free future.

Malcolm Woolf
The writer is president and chief executive of the National Hydropower Association.