Excerpt from aljazeera.com
Acheloos, Greece – In some of the remotest gorges of western Greece, at the ends of roads that wind like small intestines, sit the country’s biggest white elephant projects.
The Mesohora dam, completed 20 years ago, towers across a ravine cut by the Acheloos river, but its reservoir is empty.
Downstream lies the unfinished Sykia dam.
When work crews departed in 2009, its clay core stood to a fraction of the 150-metre (492 feet) height it is supposed to reach, the gravel buttresses even lower.
The two dams were supposed to produce at least 890 gigawatt hours per year (GWh), enough to power tens of thousands of homes, but the Acheloos continues to flow around them through diversion tunnels.
This is because Mesohora and Sykia, along with two other hydroelectric dams on which construction had not started, were part of a system with a dual purpose. They were designed to sustain enormous reservoirs – almost three-quarters of a billion tonnes between them – in order to divert 600 million tonnes of water each year to the Thessaly plain, Greece’s biggest farming region. A 17km (10.5 miles) tunnel bored under the Pindos mountains for the purpose, but never lined with concrete, is now in danger of collapsing.