Countries relying on the world’s biggest and most established source of renewable electricity have seen their poverty, corruption and debt levels rise and their economy slow at significantly greater rates than nations which use other energy resources over the last three decades, a major new study has found.

The study also found that hydropower states did not suffer from a hydroelectric resource curse and did not see an increase in internal conflict to any significant degree while carbon reduction benefits were realised only over time after the initial environmental impact of construction.

The financial benefits of major hydropower projects could also take decades to emerge, the study published today in The Review of International Political Economy found.

The new study by the University of Sussex and the International School of Management in Germany compared the security, political governance, economic development and climate change performance of major hydropower states against oil-producing and all other countries using 30 years of World Bank data.

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