Untapped Potential

Hydroelectricity Reconsidered

1. See The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica (1999) by historian Sterling Evans.

2. The availability of hydroelectricity, however, depends on dams being full of water, which, in turn, depends on rainfall, along with a host of other factors.

3. In 1994, the National Parks Service was combined with two other conservation agencies to create the National System of Conservation Areas (Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion, or SINAC).

4. Today, more than 25 percent of Costa Rica’s land area is designated for conservation.

5. That name did not last long, however, and was changed to Reserva Forestal Arenal (Arenal Forest Reserve) in 1978.

6. It should be noted that many large dams are multipurpose and are used not only to generate hydroelectric energy, but also to provide irrigation, flood control, and other services.

7. In 2008, smoke from cooking with wood-based biomass led to more deaths than did malaria or tuberculosis, according to a 2011 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development report.

8. Rwanda’s installed capacity has increased, however, as a result of recent projects like the Nyabarongo hydroelectric plant, which added 28 megawatts to the country’s installed capacity.


African Development Bank (ADB). 2013. Rwanda Energy Sector Review and Action Plan. Tunis, Tunisia: African Development Bank Group. https://www.afdb.org/fileadmin/uploads/afdb/Documents/Project-and-Operations/Rwanda_-_Energy_Sector_Review_and_Action_Plan.pdf.

Bosshard, P. 2008. “Thousands Flooded Out by Merowe Dam in Sudan.” International Rivers Network (IRN). https://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/227/thousands-flooded-out-by-merowe-dam-in-sudan.

Carls, J., W. Haffar, L. Jones, and J. Morey. 2011. Conflict Resolution of the Boruca Hydro-Energy Project: Renewable Energy Production in Costa Rica. New York: Continium Press. 

“Construction of Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project to start 30 March, 2017.” Nile Basin Initiative, March 20, 2017. http://www.nilebasin.org/index.php/new-and-events/133-construction-of-rusumo-falls-hydroelectric-project-to-start-30-march-2017.

Demarty, M and J. Bastien. 2011. “GHG emissions from hydroelectric reservoirs in tropical and equatorial regions: Review of 20 years of CH4 emission measurements.” Energy Policy 39: 4197–4206. 

Editors of Climatic Change. 2006. “The Dam Debate and its Discontents.” Climatic Change 75: 81–86.

Evans, S. 1999. The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica. Austin: University of Texas Press. 

Granoff, I., et al. 2015. Bridging Costa Rica’s Green Growth Gap: How to Support Further Transformation Toward a Green Economy in Costa Rica. Germany: Eschborn. https://www.odi.org/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/9997.pdf.

Hove, H., J. E. Parry, and N. Lujara. 2011. “Maintenance of Hydropower Potential in Rwanda Through Ecosystem Restoration.” Washington, DC: World Resources Report. https://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/wrr_case_study_ecosystem_restoration_rwanda.pdf.

International Energy Agency (IEA). 2014. Africa Energy Outlook: A Focus on Energy Prospects in Sub-Saharan Africa. Paris, France. https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WEO2014_AfricaEnergyOutlook.pdf.

International Energy Agency (IEA). 2012. Technology Roadmap: Hydropower. Paris, France. https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/2012_Hydropower_Roadmap.pdf.

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). 2014. Rethinking Energy. Abu Dhabi, UAE. https://www.irena.org/rethinking/Rethinking_FullReport_web.pdf.

Jeffs, E. 2012. Greener Energy Systems: Energy Production Technologies with Minimum Environmental Impact. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Mendonça, R., et al. 2012. “Hydroelectric carbon sequestration.” Nature Geoscience 5: 838–840.

Nile Basin Initiative. 2012. “Chapter 6 – Hydropower.” State of the River Nile Basin Report. Entebbe, Uganda: Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat. http://nileis.nilebasin.org/system/files/Nile SoB Report Chapter 6 - Hydropower.pdf.

Partridge, W. L. 1993. “Successful Involuntary Resettlement: Lessons from the Costa Rican Arenal Hydroelectric Project.” Cernea, M. M., and S. E. Guggenheim, eds. Anthropological Approaches to Resettlement Policy, Practice and Theory. Boulder: Westview Press. 351–374.

Perry, D., and K. Berry. 2016. “Central American Integration Through Infrastructure Development: A Case Study of Costa Rican Hydropower.” Regions and Cohesion 6.1: 96–115.

Scudder, T. 2005. The Future of Large Dams: Dealing with Social, Environmental, Institutional and Political Costs. London, UK: Earthscan Publications. 

Showers, K. B. 2011. “Beyond Mega on a Mega Continent: Grand Inga on Central Africa’s Congo River.” In Brunn, S. D., ed. Engineering Earth. Netherlands: Springer.

“Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi Start Construction of Rusumo Dam.” The Independent, Kampala, Uganda, March 30, 2017, https://www.independent.co.ug/rwanda-tanzania-burundi-start-construction-rusumo-dam/.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). 2011. Wood-Based Biomass Energy Development for Sub-Saharan Africa: Issues and Approaches. Washington, DC: The World Bank, Washington, DC. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/843941468009629566/pdf/NonAsciiFileName0.pdf.

Trujillo, C., et al. 2012. Reventazón Hydropower Project Environmental and Social Management Report. Inter-American Development Bank. http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=36879354.

Vivanco, L. A. 2006. Green Encounters: Shaping and Contesting Environmentalism in Rural Costa Rica. New York: Berghahn Books. 

World Commission on Dams (WCD). 2000. Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making. London, UK: Earthscan https://www.internationalrivers.org/sites/default/files/attached-files/world_commission_on_dams_final_report.pdf.