Internationalizing the political economy of hydroelectricity: security, development, and sustainability in hydropower states

Sovacool, Benjamin K and Walter, Götz (2018) Internationalizing the political economy of hydroelectricity: security, development, and sustainability in hydropower states. Review of International Political Economy. ISSN 0969-2290

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Abstract

Our study offers a comparative assessment of the economic, sociopolitical, and environmental implications of the world’s largest source of renewable electricity, hydropower. Theorists from many disciplines have questioned both the proper role and ostensible benefits from the generation of electricity from large-scale hydroelectric dams. In this study, we use 30 years of World Bank data from 1985 to 2014 and a research design with three mutually exclusive reference classes of countries: major hydropower producers, members of OPEC, and all other countries. This is precisely so our analysis moves away from “dam-centric” or single case study approaches to comparative analysis at the international scale. We examine and test six separate hypotheses related to (a) military conflict, (2) poverty, (3) economic growth, (4) public debt, (5) corruption, and (6) greenhouse gas emissions.
Our analysis lends statistical support to the idea that there is such a thing as a “hydroelectric resource curse,” although effects were not always significant and varied from small, medium to large. The possible benefits of hydroelectricity—improved energy access, economic development, positive spillover effects—are real, but they are all too frequently constrained. Planners, investors, and researchers may therefore need to rethink their underlying assumptions about how they evaluate hydropower’s risk.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Ellie Leftley
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 11:53
Last Modified: 13 May 2020 01:00
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/76272

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