Is a Dam in Rural Portugal a Key to Our Alternative Energy Future?

The New York Times

When Portugal’s electrical system needs a boost, a signal activates a power plant buried deep in a hillside in the country’s scrubby, pine-covered north. Inside the man-made cavern, valves, nine feet in diameter, suddenly open, allowing water draining from a reservoir four miles away to begin streaming through four massive turbines. Over 15 years in the making, this vast hydroelectric power plant by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola could hold some of the answers to the planet’s energy woes.


Visiting this site in 2022 for the New York Times was impressive, from the mammoth scale of the plant down to its most intricate details; the mosaic of wires, nuts and bolts carefully assembled in a true feat of modern engineering. Rudimentary-looking and sci-fi all at once, this space felt world’s away from the organic environments I’m used to photographing.


Offering me a backstage glimpse into what’s essential yet seldom seen or thought about, this story allowed me to contemplate humanity through a different lens and to reconnect to my background as a scientist.


Commissioned by Renee Melides for The New York Times. Words by Stanley Reed.


A dam on a lake with a cloudy sky.
Aerial view of a car driving down a mountain road.
A car driving through a tunnel.
A man standing in front of a pipe in a factory.
A group of electrical switches on a wall.
Two men standing in a large room.
A large machine with red and green wires.
Three men standing in a room with pipes and valves.
A red and green machine in a building.
A crane is in the middle of a tunnel.
A green and red pipe in a building.
A group of people walking through a tunnel full of pipes.
A man wearing a hard hat.
A large industrial building with pipes and pipes.
At the underground central of the Tamega complex, built by Iberdrola in POrtugal.
A large dam with a lot of water coming out of it.
Viiews from Daivões dam, the last of the three of the Tamega complex.
Construction cranes on a construction site.
The construction of a dam in the mountains.
Two men in hard hats standing next to each other.
Negative Lab Pro v2.4.1 | Color Model: Basic | Pre-Sat: 1 | Tone Profile: Cinematic - Log | LUT: Frontier
A lake surrounded by mountains and trees.
The construction of a dam near a river.
Two men standing in front of a construction site.
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