SEA of hydropower impact on Amur completed
The partners launched a joint project in 2012. The objective of the study was to identify key environmental, economic, and social factors that needed to be considered when deciding whether to untap the Amur basin’s hydropower generation potential. The Amur basin has significant hydropower resources and can potentially become a major regional energy center. The ultimate goal of the strategic assessment was to identify hydropower dam location options with the least environmental costs for the whole Amur basin and the maximum social and economic benefit to the region.
Maxim Sokov, En+ Group CEO, says, “The study is the first ever case in the Russian hydropower history when independent environmental organizations participate in the environmental assessment of hydropower projects side by side with government agencies. Such partnership is a key to compliance of new investment projects with high environmental standards. The partnership ensures a base for growth of the Russian East economy considering sustainable development principles.”
“The study is an example of the first strategic environmental assessment of hydropower impact on a river basin in Russia. Introduction and implementation of strategic assessments is becoming an increasingly urgent objective within the analysis of new projects. Such studies consider environmental and social factors as well as help improve the transparency of the projects for management decisions and increase their investment attractiveness,” says Vyacheslav Solomin, EuroSibEnergo CEO.
More than 30 experts reviewed several scenarios of hydropower potential development of the Amur basin. Location options for 26 potential and two existing HPPs, on the Zeya and the Bureya rivers, were analyzed. The experts of Geography Faculty of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Roshydromet, Amur Branch of the Federal Water Resources Agency (RosVodResursy), Federal Service for Oversight of Natural Resource Use (Rosprirodnadzor) in the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Trans-Baikal Territory, and the B. E. Vedeneev All-Russia Research Institute of Hydraulic Engineering (VNIIG) presented their reviews of the research.
The results have shown that the biggest environmental impact on freshwater ecosystems may be caused by hydropower facilities located on the main stem and the sources of the Amur River: the Khinganskaya (Taipinggou), Amazarskaya (Mohe), Novovoskresenovskaya, and Dzhalindinskaya dams on the Amur, the Ust-Urovskaya dam on the Argun and the Transsibirskaya dam on the Shilka.
“Out of the six freshwater ecoregions of the Amur basin, only the Shilka region hasn’t been affected by dams. This is important for maintaining the ecological health of the whole river basin,” comments Oxana Nikitina, Coordinator for Freshwater Ecosystem Conservation and Sustainable Hydropower of WWF-Russia. The Verkhne-Nimanskaya, Nizhne-Bureyskaya, and Usmanskaya dams in the Bureya basin, and the Okononskaya, Dzharyskinskaya, and Ivanovskaya dams in the Zeya basin are the most sustainable ones.
The already existing Bureyskaya and Zeyskaya dams and the prospective Amazarskaya, Transsibirskaya, Nizhne-Zeyskaya, Verkhne-Zeyskaya, and Verkhne-Nimanskaya HPPs turned out to be the most efficient ones in terms of socio-economic regional development of the Amur basin. Several HPPs, including the Transsibirskaya one, were shown to be somewhat unbalanced solutions within the integrated approach framework, while Rusinovskaya, Ust-Karskaya, and Chalbinskaya HPPs were shown to produce the lowest socio-economic results.
Evgeny Shvarts, Director of Conservation Policy of WWF-Russia, PhD, says, “The project is an example of transformation partnership. Aware of the different approach to the development and use of natural resources, the parties have finally reached a compromise.”
For more information, see the website of the Analytical Center.