Connected and Flowing’, the recent report by WWF and The Nature Conservancy was co-authored by FutureDAMS research director, Julien Harou. It recommends that any new dams should be subject to a system scale trade-off analysis, of the type that FutureDAMS is developing.

The report was launched days after a global study published in Nature revealed that just 37% of the world’s longest rivers remain free-flowing, with dams and reservoirs the leading cause of this connectivity loss.

Connected and Flowing argues that “the renewable energy revolution can solve the world’s climate and energy challenge without sacrificing its remaining free-flowing rivers and the diverse benefits they provide to people and nature.”

The report details the benefits of using systems scale analysis, rather than a project by project approach, and outlines the FutureDAMS approach to trade-off analysis:

“river basin simulation models and multiobjective trade-off analysis can be used to compare the performance of many different development and management options across a range of performance criteria, spanning economic, social and environmental objectives.


In this approach, the river basin is simulated so that different groupings of hydropower assets (their spatial configuration, size and operating procedures) can be considered in an integrated manner. This means cumulative impacts are evaluated and system-scale strategic outcomes can be assessed before making investment decisions, and can influence siting, design, and operational decisions”

This analysis produces interactive trade-off plots, which enable different stakeholders to easily identify the trade-offs between objectives implied by the highest performing sets of potential interventions.

Professor Julien Harou recently gave a short presentation at an International Hydropower Association event, where he outlined the potential of this approach in more detail:

Interactive trade-off analysis has been used on the Tana and Volta river basis, as part of the WISE-UP to Climate project. This videos explains how the interactive trade-off visualisation can be used:


Note: This article gives the views of the author/academic featured and does not represent the views of FutureDAMS as a whole.

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