Massive Infrastructure Projects Are Failing at Unprecedented Rates


Big fossil-fuel, mining, hydroelectric, and other “mega projects” are struggling thanks to competition from newer, cleaner technologies and a firestorm of market and civil forces.

Underlying the turbulence are some 21st century economic, ecological, and social trends that make building billion-dollar plus energy and mining projects more difficult and risky than before. The colossal scale of designing, engineering, and planning mega projects confounds construction schedules and cost assessments. The time between designing big industrial projects and their operation frequently is a decade or more—sufficient time for market conditions to change. Virtually every mega construction project in the world, according to Flyvberg, is running overdue and over budget. That has made investors increasingly nervous.

“I haven’t measured it yet, but there might be something new that is happening given the change in the weather and the change from a carbon-based economy to a renewable economy,” said Flyvbjerg. “Both of these trends have impacts on mega projects and failures.”

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