Red Sea Dam
|Red Sea Dam|
The proposal is to dam the narrow inlet to the Red Sea, shown at the bottom-right of the image.
|Coordinates||12°33′25″N 43°22′20″E / 12.55694°N 43.37222°ECoordinates: 12°33′25″N 43°22′20″E / 12.55694°N 43.37222°E|
|Dam and spillways|
|Length||29 km (18 mi)|
|Installed capacity||50,000 MW|
The Red Sea dam is a speculative macro-engineering proposal put forward in 2007 by a group of scientists and engineers. Although the authors' intentions are to explore "the ethical and environmental dilemmas and some of the political implications of macro-engineering", the proposal has attracted both criticism and ridicule.
The idea is to dam the Red Sea at its southern end where the Bab-al-Mandab Strait is only 29 km (18 mi) wide. Natural evaporation would rapidly lower the level of the enclosed Red Sea. Water rushing back into the sea would then drive turbines to generate electricity. It is claimed that up to 50 gigawatts of electrical power could be generated, dwarfing all other power schemes worldwide.
The proposal's authors point out that "Macro-engineering projects of this size cause a massive destruction of existing ecologies", a point emphasized by critics who note the damage caused by current, far smaller schemes.
The authors also note the benefits of the project. Besides helping to satisfy the region's growing energy needs, there are environmental benefits to the scheme: "On the positive side of the environmental scale, however, are the big reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, and the reduced pace of fossil hydrocarbon resource exhaustion".
Influential scientists such as Peter Bosshard, policy director of International Rivers in California, have condemned the scheme as ludicrous.
- Power from closing the Red Sea: Economic and ecological costs and benefits following the isolation of the Red Sea by Roelof Dirk Schuiling, Viorel Badescu, Richard B. Cathcart, Jihan Seoud, Jaap C. Hanekamp
- New Scientist critique
- Live Science on the environmental impact
- Red Sea mega-dam would be 'irresponsible' New Scientist, 07 December 2007 by Phil McKenna
- Gibraltar Strait Dam Macroprojects by Richard Cathcart, one of the authors of the Red Sea Dam proposal.