In a recent study, researchers of NOVA University Lisbon evaluated the economic viability and energy productivity of existing and planned small hydropower projects in the European Mediterranean region. They found that currently, they can cover at best 2.6% of gross electricity consumption and 0.47% of primary energy consumption. The real contribution is likely much lower.

Every two years, we analyse the situation of hydropower development in the Balkans, updating the data of existing and planned hydropower plants as well as those currently under construction. Since the last update of this kind in 2018, another 300 HPPs came into operation, leaving hundreds of kilometres of rivers and streams devastated.

In Europe, 91 percent of the planned 8,000 hydropower plants are “small”. But what do small dams really look like and how do they affect nature and species around them? Not many people have ever seen a small dam scheme. This is why we prepared this catalogue visualizing the effects of small hydro with drone footage of existing dams.

Hydropower plants, especially small hydro, are one of the main causes for the increasingly long Red Lists of fishes. If the expansion is not stopped, 186 fish species in the rivers of the Mediterranean region will be pushed further towards extinction. © Amel Emric

Hydropower plants are one of the main causes for the decline of numerous fish species in the Mediterranean region. This is the result of a new study. In total, 251 endangered freshwater fish species along with their stock situation in rivers in the Mediterranean basin were recorded. The impact of existing and planned hydropower plants on these populations was also evaluated.

Freshwater systems are threatened like no other ecosystem globally. In Europe, the last intact rivers are located in the Balkans, but are severely at risk due to 3000 dam projects. We have come up with a scientifically founded plan to protect these river jewels: the Eco-Masterplan for Balkan Rivers. For the purpose of today’s World Water Day, we present to you this video explaining it in two minutes.

++ 80,000 kilometers of rivers in the Balkans scientifically assessed ++ 76 percent thereof identified as no-go zones for hydropower development ++ Switch in energy policy is necessary and possible ++ Three quarters of the rivers in the Balkans are ecologically so valuable, that they should be completely off limits for hydropower development. This is the conclusion of the Eco-Masterplan, which was published today.

The countries in the Balkans are facing a dilemma: they must fulfill the EU renewable targets while also follow environmental legislation. This raises the question: Is it possible to increase the renewable energy share AND keep the Balkan Rivers alive? We commissioned an energy expert with this question and his study shows that there is no need for new hydropower!