A Literature Search on Hydroelectric Power in South America,
With an Emphasis on Small-Scale Hydroelectric Power in Andean America

(Presented with permission by the student author in
Paul Anderson's Latin America course in Fall 1993.)

If you have not read the explanatory materials, this literature search is NOT a good place to start. Please go to the Literature Search Home Page.

This literature search received a very high A. Even though it is quite long for a literature search, the writer thoroughly discusses the extent of the existing literature, and compares the literature regarding the topic. It does not enter the "term paper" range because he does not discuss the details of the topic.


Hydroelectric power has become a significant source of energy for South America over the past few decades. With the increased importance of hydroelectric power in South America, there has been an increase in the literature on the topic. This paper is a literature search on hydroelectric power in South America, with an emphasis on small-scale hydroelectric power in Andean America. In the following paragraphs, an assessment is made of the literature on hydroelectric power in South America and small-scale hydroelectric power in Andean America.

"The imposition of higher energy costs by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries beginning in October 1973 has profoundly changed the conditions for growth in most of the world's developing countries" (James and Street 1983). This statement by James and Street characterizes the foundational impetus for much of the development of and literature on hydroelectric power in Latin America. "The problem was not only...but also how to engage in conscious energy planning to adjust to the new energy realities (Stamos 1986). The majority of the literature focuses on the issue of energy policy. With a need to utilize alternative sources of energy, South America, endowed with enormous hydroelectric potential, has turned to Hydroelectric Power as a major source of energy (Dunkerley, Ramsay, Gordon, & Cecelski 1981, Nazli 1982, United Nations 1990, Tendler 1968, Wollman 1968, Brown 1978, Danilevsky 1987, Goldemberg 1984, Dickenson 1990, Da Rosa 1983, Sears and Bragg 1987). The coverage of hydroelectric power in the references is found as chapters in books -- and sections in articles -- on energy, energy policy, and water resources; and also as the specific focus of various articles. The diversity of the locations(in the references -- not geographic -- ) of the information on hydroelectric power in South America is due mainly to the need to investigate and develop all available energy resources (Brown 1978, Nazli 1982, United Nations 1990, Dickenson 1989,1990).

In general, the consensus in the literature is that the "soft path" of energy development should be taken. The "soft path" is defined by the use of renewable energy resources, while the "hard path" is defined by the use of fossil fuels (Stamos 1983, 1986, Nazli 1982, James and Street 1983, Goldemberg 1984, Dickenson 1989, 1990). Hydroelectric power is an essential and major part of renewable energy resources in South America. James and Street take a notably strong stance in favor of the "hard path," and their analysis is criticized by Stamos. Also, Goldemberg presents the issue with an emphasis on the need for flexibility and more information. The issue is also covered in the books on energy resources/policy/development. One of the major hindrances to the development of hydroelectric power in South America is the significant financial requisites (Brown 1978, Sears and Bragg 1987, Maguire and Brown 1986, Nazli 1982, Tendler 1968, Cavers and Nelson 1959, Stamos 1983, The Economist 1991, Da Rosa 1983). Another hindrance to the development of hydroelectric power in South America has been the environmental effect that such development effects.

The development of hydroelectric power in South America has not progressed without a significant effect on the environment. With very few exceptions - the older literature deviates from the norm here - all of the references devote some content to the issue of the environmental impact of the development of hydroelectric power in South America. The degree of concern over the environmental issue varies throughout the literature, but there is a general understanding, with a few exceptions, that hydroelectric development is not "usually ecologically benign" (Florman 1989). The environmental issue is a major focus of much of the recent literature. Some of the negative environmental effects of hydroelectric development are flooding, diseases, rainforest destruction, soil erosion, siltation, pollution, and habitat destruction(endangered species) (Moore 1990, Dickenson 1989, 1990, Williams 1984, Colchester 1989, Florman 1989, Maguire and Brown 1986, Danilevsky 1987, Sears and Bragg 1987, Porter 1990). As an extension of the environmental effects, there is also a significant effect on the indigenous human populations in the areas.

The development of hydroelectric power in South America has had a significant effect on indian populations in the area. Indian populations have been displaced by hydroelectric projects in the past, and recent projects and plans threaten to displace even more indians from their native lands (Maguire and Brown 1986, Sears and Bragg 1987, Florman 1989, Colchester 1989, Moore 1990). The references that address this issue seem to be written with the intent to inform people of the offense(s) in order to encourage the stopping/regulation of further development that threatens the indian populations. The articles by Sears and Bragg and Colchester identify two specific indian populations, the Pehuenche Indians and the Kayapo Indians, in regard to development on the Bio-Bio and Xingu rivers, respectively.

Although the negative effects of hydroelectric power are significant, there is coverage in the literature of some positive effects of hydroelectric power. These include irrigation possibilities, navigation of rivers, and soil conservation(downstream benefits of) (Southgate and Macke 1989, Danilevsky 1987, Dickenson 1990, United Nations 1990).

Although there is a lack of specific statistics - those necessary for hydroelectric development - on hydroelectric power in South America, there is enough available data so that one could become sufficiently acquainted with the situation of hydroelectric power in South America. The major statistical sources, as identified in this literature search, were prepared by the United Nations, Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc., England Staples Printers Rochester Limited, and Guyol. The United Nations publications are the most extensive in terms of general statistics and are the most frequently referenced source of data in the general literature. Guyol's book is the most specific statistical source on hydroelectric power, but the source(Guyol 1969) is dated.

Even without these specific volumes of statistics, a wealth of data can be obtained from the many charts and graphs that are provided in the general references.

The three textbook references that were surveyed contained general information on hydroelectric power in South America. With the exception of the text by Blouet and Blouet, the texts covered essentially the whole of South America. Hydroelectric power in South America was essentially covered on a regional/country basis. The texts focused on the energy need of the region/country, the extensive hydroelectric potential of the region/country, the significant recent development/use of hydroelectric power in the region/country, and large-scale hydroelectric development and its effects on industrial development in the region/country (Blouet and Blouet 1993, Preston and Minkel 1986, Blakemore and Smith 1983). The environmental/social effects of hydroelectric power development in Brazil is briefly covered in the text by Blouet and Blouet, but this issue is not addressed in the other texts. Small-scale hydroelectric power in Bolivia is briefly referenced in the text by Blakemore and Smith. The length of the coverage in the texts, for a specific region/country, varies from a few sentences to a few paragraphs. Overall, the texts provide a sufficient introduction to the topic as part of an introduction to South America.

The coverage of small-scale hydroelectric power in Andean America is severely lacking. From a select few of the references and some statistics, it is evident that small-scale hydroelectric power does exist in Andean America, generally as a source of power for small villages (Blakemore and Smith 1983, Southgate and Macke 1989, Dunkerley, Ramsay, Gordon, and Cecelski 1981, Sears and Bragg 1987). According to Southgate and Macke, "Over one hundred "mini-hydro" facilities,..., have been constructed" in Ecuador (Southgate and Macke 1989). This recent development in Ecuador is consistent with recent environmental concern and financial requirements. Reference to small-scale hydroelectric power is generally afforded in reaction to environmental effects and cost of large-scale projects (Brown 1978, Southgate and Macke 1989, Dunkerley, Ramsay, Gordon, and Cecelski 1981, Sears and Bragg 1987, Maguire and Brown, Holman, Fletcher, and Singer 1991).

Although there is a significant amount of literature on hydroelectric power in South America, there is still a lack.

Although it is important for the U.S. engineering community to realize what has been, is being or could be, done in that region [South America], no comprehensive work on the subject [hydroelectric power] has yet been published. (Danilevsky 1987)

The diverse energy sources in current usage are inherently geographical in scope and function. Among these, hydroelectric energy has received limited and unfocused attention in the geographic literature. (Sternberg 1990)

Some of the topics involving hydroelectric power in South America literature that the literature does cover are energy policy, energy development, energy resources, water resources, environmental effects, and social effects. The references surveyed, though, proved to be insufficient in the coverage of small-scale hydroelectric power in Andean America.


Reference Summary Chart


AUTHOR = The author of the reference

M/C = Maps and/or Charts ("X" denotes the presence of a map/chart in the reference)

AREA = The geographical area which the reference covers

CHARACTERIZATION = The characteristics of the reference*

- R/S = Report/Study

- STAT = Statistical reference

- Text = Textbook

- Geo = Geographic orientation

- Soc = Social orientation

- Ec = Economic orientation

- Sci = Scientific orientation

- Hist = Historical orientation

- P = Positive towards hydroelectric power

- N = Negative towards hydroelectric power

- U = Neutral towards hydroelectric power

- ene = energy content

- env = environmental content

- smsc = small-scale hydroelectric power content

*Some characteristics are not defined(for example Book = Book)



Blouet &

Blouet (1993) X Brazil Text,Ec,U,smsc,env

Blakemore &

Smith (1983) X Latin America Text,Ec,P,smsc

Brown (1978) X Third World Book,Geo,P,ene,env,smsc

Cavers &

Nelson (1959) X Chile Brazil Book,Geo,U,ene,env

Costa Rica

Colombia &


Da Rosa (1983) X Parana R. Article,Geo,U

Colchester X Amazonia Article,Geo/Soc,N,env


Danilevsky X Rio De La Article,Geo/Sci,U

(1987) Plata

Dickenson X Brazil Article,Geo,U,ene,env


Dickenson X Brazil Article,Geo,U,ene,env,

(1990) smsc

Dickenson X Brazil Article,Geo,U,ene,env


Donoso (N/A) X Chile R/S,Ec,P



Gordon &

Cecelski (1981) X Latin America Book,Geo,P,smsc,ene,env

Florman (1987) Brazil Article,Geo,N,env

Guyol (1969) X World STAT,Electric,U

Goldemberg X Latin America Article,Sci,P,ene,env



Fletcher *

Singer (1991) X N/A Article,Geo/Sci,P,smsc


Moore &


Hatfield (1993) Bolivia Article,Geo/Ec,P,env

Colombia &


James &

Street (1983) Latin America Article,Sci,N,ene

Latin America

& the Caribbean


Record (1990) X Latin America Book,Gen,U

& Caribbean

Maguire &

Brown (1986) Latin America Compilation,Geo,N,env

Moore (1990) Colca R. Article,Geo/Soc,U,env

Nazli (1982) X Latin America Book,Geo,P,ene

Porter (1990) X Parana R. Article,Geo,U,ene,env

Preston &

Minkel (1986) Latin America Text,Ec,P

Sears &

Bragg (1981) X Bio-Bio R. Article,Geo,N,env,smsc

Southgate &

Macke (1989) X Ecuador Article,Sci,P,env,smsc

Stamos (1983) X Latin America Article,Sci,P,ene,env

Stamos (1986) Latin America Article,Sci,U,ene,env

Tendler (1968) X Brazil Book,Ec,P,ene,hist


Nations (1990) X Latin America R/S,Geo/Ec,P,ene,env,smsc


Nations (1990) X World STAT,Ene,U


Nations (1991) X Latin America STAT,Gen,U

& Caribbean

Williams (1985) Itaipu Article,Geo,U,ene,env

Wollman (1968) Chile R/S,Geo/Ec,N,ene,env

"The Dam They X Yacreta Article,Ec,N

Can't Afford"



Annotated Bibliography

Key: A1 = High quality background reference

A2 = Moderate quality background reference

A3 = Poor quality background reference

O1 = Reference with opposing viewpoints

S1 = Specific reference on the topic

S2 = Non-specific reference on the topic with some specific information on the topic

PS = Primary statistical reference

XXX = References not read and/or not obtained



XXX Arduino, Gabriel (1990) "Hidrologia de la cuenca del Rio de la Plata" Interciencia V 15 No. 6 pp. 373-377.


XXX Bastos, Carlos and Alfredo Aldo Visintini (1987) "Hacia un nuevo plan electrico" Desarrollo Economico V 27 No. 107 pp. 277-295.


A2 Blakemore, Harold and Smith, Clifford T. (Editors) (1983) Latin America: Geographical Perspectives (Second Edition). Methuen, New York, New York.

HC 125 .L344 (I.S.U.)


XXX Blanco Alarcon, Astrid and Hernando Roa Suarez (1986) "Una nueva dimension de la planeacion en Colombia: la integracion de los desarrollos regional e hidroelectrico" Revista Interamericana de Planificacion V 20 No. 78 pp. 101-120.


A3 Blouet, Brian W. and Blouet, Olwyn M. (Editors) (1993) Latin America and the Caribbean: A Systematic and Regional Survey (Second Edition). John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, New York.

Geography 230 Textbook


A2 Brown, Norman L. (Editor) (1978) Renewable Energy Resources and Rural Applications in the Developing World. Westview Press, Boulder Colorado.

TJ 163 .R46 (I.S.U.)


XXX Catullo, Maria Rosa (1986) "Relocalizaciones compulsivas de poblacion: un estudio de un caso; Ciudad Nueva Federacion, Entre Rios" Runa V 16 pp. 137-145.


A3 Cavers, David F. and Nelson, James R. (1959) Electric Power Regulation in Latin America. The John's Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

HD 9685 .S8422 C3 (I.S.U.)


A2 CEPAL (1990) The Water Resources of Latin America and the Caribbean - Planning, Hazards and Pollution. United Nations Publication, Santiago, Chile.

HD 1696.5 L29 W27 1990 (Sangamon State U.)


A1 Chuocri, Nazli (1982) Energy and Development in Latin America: Perspectives for Public Policy. Lexington Books, Lexington, Massachusettes.

HD 9502 .L32 C48 1982 (I.S.U.)


A2 Colchester, Marcus (1989) "The World Listens to the Indios" The Geographical Magazine V LXI June 1989 pp. 16-20.

G1 .G34301 Per. (I.S.U.)


XXX Cornell, Thomas E. (1962) Energy Resources in Argentina: Types, Regional Patterns, and Significance to the Economy. Thesis(M.A.) Columbia University, New York, New York.


A1 Da Rosa, J. Eliseo (1983) "Economics, Politics, and Hydroelectric Power: The Parana River Basin" Latin American Research Review V XVIII No. 3 pp. 77-107.

F 1401 .L345 Per. (I.S.U.)

A1 Danilevsky, Alexander (1987) "Development of the Rio De La Plata System" Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management V113 November 1987 pp. 761-778.

TC 401 .J6801 (Microfilm) (I.S.U.)


A3 Dickenson, Dr. J. P. (1989) "Oiling the Wheels" The Geographical Magazine V LXI No. 12 (Analysis).

G1 .G34301 Per. (I.S.U.)

A2 Dickenson, John (1990) "Harnessing Hydrology" The Geographical Magazine V LXII No. 1 pp. 7-8 (Analysis).

G1 .G34301 Per. (I.S.U.)


A3 Dickenson, John (1990) "Different Demands" The Geographical Magazine V LXII No. 3 pp. 7-8 (Analysis).

G1 .G34301 Per. (I.S.U.)


A3 Donoso, Jaime (N/A) Chile and Its Water Resources. Chilean Development Corporation (CORFO), New York, New York.

HD 1696 .C5D53 (I.S.U.)


A2 Dunkerley, Joy, Ramsay, William, Gordon, Lincoln, and Cecelski, Elizabeth (1981) Energy Strategies for Developing nations. The John's Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

HD 9502 .A2 E5516 (I.S.U.)


O1 Florman, Samuel C. (1989) "Hegel and the Amazon Basin" Technology Review V 92 No. 7 p. 19.

T 171 .M47 (I.S.U.)


XXX Gaete, Amelia T. (1989) "Desarrollo Rural en la IX Region De Chile Mediante Utilzacion de Microcentrales Hidroelectricas" Estudios Sociales No. 60 trimestre 2 pp. 121-137.


O1 Goldemberg, Jose (1984) "Energy Problems in Latin America" Science V 223 No. 4643 pp. 1357-1362.

Q1 .S35 Per. (I.S.U.)


XXX Goldemberg, Jose and Marcovitch, Jacques (1989) "Energy Policy in Brazin and the Latin American Countries" Interciencia V 14 No. 5 pp. 258-263.


XXX Gonzalez Posse, Ernesto (1986) "El efecto de los grandes proyectos hidroelectricos binacionales en la integracion fronteriza" Integracion Latinoamericana V 11 No. 118 pp. 31 -44.


PS Guyol, Nathaniel B. (1969) The World Electric Power Industry. University of California Press, Berkely, California.

HD 9685 .A268 Per. (I.S.U.)


S2 Holman, Walter, Harold Fletcher, and Singer, Daniel (1991) "The Future for Small Hydroelectric Power" Public Utilities Fortnightly V 128 No. 11 pp 34-36.

HD 2763 .A2P82 Per. (I.S.U.)


S2 Hunt, Rebecca, Moore, Paul, and Zieger-Hatfield, Laura (1993) "Changing Energy Policies in South America Create Opportunities for U.S. Suppliers and Investors" Business America V 114 No. 10 pp. 12-13.

HF1 B86 Fl4 Curr Per (I.S.U.)


A2 James, Dilmus D. and Street, James H. (1983) "Technology, Institutions, and Public Policy in the Age of Energy Substitution: The Case of Latin America" Journal of Economic Issues V XVII No. 2 pp. 521-528.

HB1 .J64 Per. (I.S.U.)


A2 James, Preston E. and Minkel, C.W. (with assistnace by Eileen W. James) (1986) Latin America (Fifth Edition). John Wiley and Sons, New York, New York.

F1408 .J28 1986 (I.S.U.)


A1 Maguire, Andrew and Brown, janet Welsh (Editors) (1986) Bordering on Trouble: Resorces and Politics in Latin America. Adler & Adler, Publishers, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland.

HC 125 .B594 1986 (I.S.U.)


XXX Marquez, Susan and Alberto Viladrich (1990) "El Equipamiento hidroeloectrico argentino: politicas de elaboracion de proyectos y de inversiones" Realidad Economica, No. 95(1990) pp. 122-140.


XXX Montes, Nora (1987) "Las fuentes de energia nuevas y renovables: una vision de su desarrollo" Revista Interamericana de Planificacion V 21 No. 82 pp. 99-116.


A3 Moore, Patti (1990) "Colca's Elusive Waters" Americas V 42 No. 1 pp. 38-45.

F 1401 .A57 Per. (I.S.U.)


XXX Morales Larrain, Margareta (1990) "Resumen de tesis: "Ecoadministracion de una cuenca hidrografica en funcion de necesidades compartidas" EURE V 16 No. 48 pp. 103-104.


XXX Mozeto, Antonio A. et al. (1990) "O uso de sistema geografico de informacao e de sensoriamento remoto na avaliacao do impacto ambiental na estacao ecologica da UHE Samuel Rondonia, Brasil" Interciencia V 15 No. 5 pp. 265-271.


A1 Porter, Jane (Editor) (1990) "Powerful Parana" The Geographical Magazine V LXII No. 3 pp. 1-3 (Analysis).

G1 .G34301 Per. (I.S.U.)


XXX Rofman, Alejandro Boris (1987) "Evaluacion comparativa de las metodologias aplicadas en los estudion de frandes represas" Revista Interamericana de Planificacion V 2 No. 81 pp. 121 -132.


A2 Sears, John and Bragg, Katherine (1987) "Bio-Bio: A River Under Threat" The Ecologist V 17 No. 1 pp. 15-20.

QH 540 .N3901 Per. (I.S.U.)


S2 Southgate, Douglas and Macke, Robert (1989) "The Downstream Benefits of Soil Conservation in Third World Hydroelectric Watersheds" Land Economics V 65 No. 1 pp. 38-48.

HB1 .J65 Per. (I.S.U.)


O1 Stamos, Stephen C. Jr. (1983) "A Critique of James and Street's "Technology, Institutions, and Public Policy in the Age of Energy Substitution: The Case of Latin America" Journal of Economic Issues V XVII No. 3 pp. 745-750.

HB1 .J64 Per. (I.S.U.)


A2 Stamos, Stephen C. Jr. (1986) "Energy and Development in Latin America" Latin American Research Review V XXI No. 1 pp. 188-201.

F 1401 .L345 Per. (I.S.U.)


XXX Sternberg, Rolf (1985) "Large Scale Hydroelectric Projects and Brazilian Politics. Revista Geografica(Mexico) No. 101 pp. 29-44.


XXX Sternberg, Rolf (1990) "Perspectivas Geograficas Nos Sistemas Hidroelectricos" Revista Brasileira de Geografica V52 No.1 pp. 157-187.

XXX Suarex, Carlos Enrique (1989) "La energia y el desarrollo economico: la prevision de la demanda energetica" Revista Interamericana de Planificacion V 22 No. 86 pp. 115-152.


A3 Tendler, Judith (1968) Electric Power in Brazil: Entrepreneurship in the Public Sector. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusettes.

HD 9685 B8 T45 (I.S.U.)


XXX U.N. ECLA (1962) "Hydroelectric Resources in Latin America: Their Measurement and Utilization" Economic Bulletin for Latin America V VII No. 1 pp. 73-113.


A2 Williams, A. R. (1984) "The Mighty Itaipu" Americas V 37 No. 3 pp. 32-35.

F 1401 .A57 Per. (I.S.U.)


A2 Wollman, Nathaniel (1968) The Water Resources of Chile. The John's Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland.

HD 1696 .C5W6 (I.S.U.)


PS (1990) Latin America and Caribbean Contempory Record (V VII: 1987-1988). Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc., New York, New York.



PS (1991) Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean (1991 Edition). United Nations, Chile.

HA 751 .A58 (I.S.U.)


A3 (1991) "The Dam They Can't Afford" The Economist V 320 No. 7719 p. 34.

HG 11 .E2 Per. (I.S.U.)


PS (1992) 1990 Energy Statistics Yearbook. United Nations, New York, New York.

HA13 .U502 (I.S.U.)


PS (1993) South America, Central America, and the Caribbean 1993. England Staples Printers Rochester Limited, Rochester, Kent.

Ref F 1406.5 .S68 4th 1993 (I.S.U.)



ON THE REFERENCES - Included in the Annotated Bibliography are numerous references to articles/books which were not obtained and/or not read. Several of these references were written in a language other than english. The non-english resources were obtained from the Hispanic American Periodicals Index. I had the idea that I would translate some of these, but after taking over two hours to translate a page of Sternberg's essay, I realized that I did not have enough time. I did learn a little Portuguese and Spanish, though. Along with the listed articles/books which were not obtained and/or not read, I found thirty to fifty other references that seemed to pertain to the topic, but were not obtained and/or not read. These other references were primarily found in the HAPI(1985-1991), the General Science Index(1985-1993), and the Energy Information Abstracts Annual(1985-1992). I also noticed a significant amount of literature in the bibliographies of the references which I did not include in the Annotated Bibliography. These references were not obtained and/or not read primarily because the I.S.U. library did not have them. These references were not included in the bibliography essentially due to time, but I do have lists/copies of them if you would like to see them. I also noticed a significant amount of literature in the bibliographies of the references that I did read.

ON THE LITERATURE SEARCH - I spent about 65 hours on the literature search, but I do not think I spent enough time to adequately search the topic and prepare the report. The literature search was instructive though, especially concerning use of library resources.

Return to Literature Search Home Page