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1 Aug 2021

TMP Systems and International Rivers

Riverscope Case Study: Batang Toru, Indonesia Summary

Riverscope Case Study: Batang Toru, Indonesia Summary

August 2021

The electricity produced by large-scale hydropower is expensive in commercial, social, and environmental terms. Dams have significant and irreversible impacts on societies and ecosystems while being exposed to huge operational and financial risks. The way that these projects are assessed systematically underestimates these impacts and risks, meaning that investors, developers, and regulators often make the wrong decisions based on incomplete information.

This document summarizes an assessment of the proposed Batang Toru hydropower project in Indonesia, using the “Riverscope” assessment tool. Riverscope offers a new way to assess large dams by combining geospatial analysis, expert investigation, and financial modeling. Riverscope is unique in that it presents a commercial comparison between hydropower, solar ,and wind, alongside a rapid but wide-reaching environmental and social risk analysis. As such, it provides relevant information and analysis for governments, investors, and the third sector. The full assessment report and methodology is available at www.riverscope.org.

This Riverscope assessment of Batang Toru shows that:

  1. The project could be delayed by up to 9 years, mainly because of a combination of social and environmental challenges. This delay significantly reduces the dam’s financial value.
  2. Under the most likely scenario, Batang Toru will be 46% more expensive than solar by 2027 (the most probable starting date of operation), and 87% more by 2034.
  3. Alternative energy technologies could deal with energy poverty and security more cheaply and more rapidly than Batang Toru without incurring substantial negative impacts.