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Sonoma State University

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Mongolia: Geopolitics and the Environment


Humans have been using the kinetic energy generated by waters movement in the hydrologic cycle for thousands of years. Since the late 19th century people have harnessed this energy source and utilized it as a means of generating electricity. The use of hydropower in many different ways can be found in countries all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Spain, Turkey, India, China and, of course Mongolia. However, in some developed countries including the United States and Sweden there is a growing movement of hydropower stations and dam removal. In countries like Brazil and Ecuador the governments themselves have halted plans on building more dam-like hydropower stations. Mongolia is at a crossroads in its development stage and although it still generates most of its electricity via coal-powered thermal plants it has made recent moves to diversify to more renewable energy. Some of this diversification has come in the form of proposed large hydropower stations on some of the country’s largest and most pristine rivers. While hydropower is nothing new to Mongolia, the country currently has only two hydropower stations that can operate all year producing electricity. It is because of these planned projects for larger hydropower stations, that I decided to go to the country’s current largest hydropower station, which is in Khovd Amag in Durgun Soum, and talk with the locals about how it has affected their lives and what were their feelings were about the hydropower station. There has yet to be any official research on the effects that the Durgun Hydropower Station has had on the local environment or any discussion of the local peoples’ attitudes towards the plant itself. I spent three weeks in the area and conducted nineteen primary interviews as well as passed out thirty quantitative surveys. In additions, I made a visit to the actual Durgun Soum Hydropower Station. I met with government officials, hydropower plant workers and herders alike. What I found was a lack of any hard evidence about the stations environmental effects, but generally a positive attitude and feeling about the hydropower stations from the local people.


Environmental Health and Protection | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Water Resource Management


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