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Licensing of small hydroelectric plants in Brazil: considerations on cumulative and synergic impacts in environmental studies

Grant number: 21/08165-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2022
Effective date (End): December 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Principal Investigator:Denise Gallo Pizella
Grantee:Manuela Lopes Santos
Host Institution: Faculdade de Engenharia (FEIS). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Ilha Solteira. Ilha Solteira , SP, Brazil

Abstract

Small Hydroelectric Power Plants (SHPs) are hydroelectric plants that, according to the classification of the National Electric Energy Agency, have smaller size and power in relation to large hydroelectric plants and, therefore, are considered a clean source of energy and projects with low environmental impact. As a result, there is some flexibility in relation to the assessment of environmental impacts caused by the environmental licensing process for this type of hydroelectric project. In contrast, different scientific researches have already shown evidence that SHPs, even with their smaller size, can lead to losses, altering the hydrological characteristics of aquatic ecosystems and interfering with the biota. In common, there is evidence that a set of SHPs in the same river basin can cause cumulative and synergistic impacts, significantly affecting the entire basin area over time and space. However, these impacts are little taken into account. In this sense, this project will seek to investigate whether the Environmental Impact Studies (EIAs) and simplified studies prepared for SHPs in Brazil consider, their potential social and environmental impacts, those of a synergistic and cumulative nature. For this analysis, the existence of regulations that lead to the need for environmental studies to analyze such types of impacts on state licensing agencies, the Federal District, and IBAMA will be identified. There will also be analyzed EIAs and other simplified environmental studies prepared for SHP projects in all states of the Federation, Federal District, and the Union, seeking what are the potential cumulative and synergistic impacts (if any) and their frequency for physical, biological, and anthropic environment. It is expected that, if failures in the environmental licensing of these activities are pointed out, it will contribute to possible improvements in the processes, with the possible inclusion of environmental planning instruments, such as the Integrated Environmental Assessment of Hydrographic Basins.(AU)

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