IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Environmentally feasible potential for hydropower development regarding environmental constraints


  • Zhang, Jin
  • Xu, Linyu
  • Yu, Bing
  • Li, Xiaojin


In addition to technical and economical reasons, environmental impacts are becoming an increasingly important issue in the policy making of hydropower development. According to different spatial scales, environmental impacts of hydropower projects can be divided into environmental impacts around a plant and environmental impacts downstream. The former can be transformed into a uniformed quantification based on CO2 equivalent (CO2-e), while the latter can be quantified in terms of reduced downstream flow. Environmental constraints around a plant are presented as the minimum production of environmental impacts around a plant, while those downstream are presented as not affecting the downstream environmental flow requirements. Based on five large hydropower projects (LHPs) and 10 small hydropower projects (SHPs) cases in Tibet, China, LHPs have greater environmental impacts around a plant when compared with SHP, but the opposite is true for downstream environmental impacts. For environmental constraints around a plant and downstream, the environmentally feasible potential for hydropower development on the Lhasa River is 398.3MW, which accounts for 15.6% of its theoretical potential, while the optimized hydropower mode choice is 285.7MW for LHP and 112.6MW for SHP. Environmentally feasible potential aims to balance hydropower generation with environmental protection, and tends to maximize the low carbon attributes of hydropower.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Jin & Xu, Linyu & Yu, Bing & Li, Xiaojin, 2014. "Environmentally feasible potential for hydropower development regarding environmental constraints," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 552-562.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:73:y:2014:i:c:p:552-562
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2014.04.040

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Varun, & Prakash, Ravi & Bhat, I.K., 2012. "Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions estimation for small hydropower schemes in India," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 498-508.
    2. Pérez-Díaz, Juan I. & Wilhelmi, José R., 2010. "Assessment of the economic impact of environmental constraints on short-term hydropower plant operation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 7960-7970, December.
    3. Fang, Yiping & Deng, Wei, 2011. "The critical scale and section management of cascade hydropower exploitation in Southwestern China," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 5944-5953.
    4. Kucukali, Serhat, 2010. "Hydropower potential of municipal water supply dams in Turkey: A case study in Ulutan Dam," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 6534-6539, November.
    5. de Almeida, Aníbal T. & Moura, Pedro S. & Marques, Alféu S. & de Almeida, José L., 2005. "Multi-impact evaluation of new medium and large hydropower plants in Portugal centre region," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 149-167, April.
    6. Chang, XiaoLin & Liu, Xinghong & Zhou, Wei, 2010. "Hydropower in China at present and its further development," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 4400-4406.
    7. Tang, Xinhua & Zhou, Jianjun, 2012. "A future role for cascade hydropower in the electricity system of China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 358-363.
    8. Dursun, Bahtiyar & Gokcol, Cihan, 2011. "The role of hydroelectric power and contribution of small hydropower plants for sustainable development in Turkey," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 1227-1235.
    9. Pascale, Andrew & Urmee, Tania & Moore, Andrew, 2011. "Life cycle assessment of a community hydroelectric power system in rural Thailand," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 2799-2808.
    10. Yuksel, Ibrahim, 2012. "Water development for hydroelectric in southeastern Anatolia project (GAP) in Turkey," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-23.
    11. dos Santos, Marco Aurelio & Rosa, Luiz Pinguelli & Sikar, Bohdan & Sikar, Elizabeth & dos Santos, Ednaldo Oliveira, 2006. "Gross greenhouse gas fluxes from hydro-power reservoir compared to thermo-power plants," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 481-488, March.
    12. Mishra, Sachin & Singal, S.K. & Khatod, D.K., 2011. "Optimal installation of small hydropower plant—A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(8), pages 3862-3869.
    13. Fang, Yiping & Wang, Mingjie & Deng, Wei & Xu, Keyan, 2010. "Exploitation scale of hydropower based on instream flow requirements: A case from southwest China," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(8), pages 2290-2297, October.
    14. Gowan, Charles & Stephenson, Kurt & Shabman, Leonard, 2006. "The role of ecosystem valuation in environmental decision making: Hydropower relicensing and dam removal on the Elwha River," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 508-523, April.
    15. Hennig, Thomas & Wang, Wenling & Feng, Yan & Ou, Xiaokun & He, Daming, 2013. "Review of Yunnan's hydropower development. Comparing small and large hydropower projects regarding their environmental implications and socio-economic consequences," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 585-595.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:rensus:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:600-617 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:912-:d:100174 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Li, Yun & Li, Yanbin & Ji, Pengfei & Yang, Jing, 2015. "The status quo analysis and policy suggestions on promoting China׳s hydropower development," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 1071-1079.
    4. Tahseen, Samiha & Karney, Bryan W., 2017. "Reviewing and critiquing published approaches to the sustainability assessment of hydropower," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 225-234.
    5. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:1316-:d:106256 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:renene:v:121:y:2018:i:c:p:700-711 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:renene:v:116:y:2018:i:pa:p:827-834 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Yu, Bing & Xu, Linyu, 2016. "Review of ecological compensation in hydropower development," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 729-738.

    More about this item


    Hydropower; Environmental impacts; Low carbon.;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:73:y:2014:i:c:p:552-562. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.