Environmental Metrics for Hydropower

The overall intent of the project is to identify a measurable, repeatable, and broadly understandable suite of metrics for quantifying the environmental effects of hydropower.

This is a study of environmental metrics used in assessing the environmental effects of new hydropower development. Environmental effects in this context refer to the effects on the physical and ecological functions of the stream and the biota it supports. Follow-on research efforts may consider cumulative and basin-scale effects of multiple project developments, regional analysis national impacts of hydropower technology deployment, and social and economic effects of hydropower project development. The intent of DOE and ORNL in this project is to create a shared catalog of terminology, metrics, and metric methodology that will enable stakeholders to define, assess, and communicate their own concepts of environmental sustainability with efficacy, clarity, and transparency. The definition of combinations of metrics that assess environmental sustainability in specific instances is the purview of stakeholders and is beyond the scope of this study. Follow-on research efforts may advance stakeholder-driven sustainability protocols. This study will not address the role of hydropower development in altering carbon cycling, but the metrics developed in this study may prove useful within that research domain.