Hydropower Tsunami on Balkans

New hydropower report: Dam tsunami on Balkans is speeding up ++ 2.800 hydropower projects planned, 187 under construction ++ more than 1.000 of them inside protected areas

Every river and every stream is at risk. In total about 3,000 hydropower plants are projected or under construction in the Balkans. © FLUVIUS / EuroNatur / Riverwatch
Ongoing construction work in Valbona National Park, Albania. © Mirjan Aliaj

Vienna, Radolfzell. A new data set makes the extent of the threat to the Blue Heart of Europe visible: the dam tsunami has started to roll. Currently, between Slovenia and Greece, about 2.800 hydropower plants are being planned, 187 are under construction, more than 1.000 of those (or 37%) inside protected areas (118 of which in national parks, 547 in Natura 2000 areas, the rest inside high level national categories). Since 2015 about 160-180 hydropower plants have been constructed in that region. Within the campaign „Save the Blue Heart of Europe” we regularly assess the hydropower development on the Balkans. Since the last update in 2015, the speed of river destruction has increased. The assessment was prepared by Fluvius.

“These numbers visualize the dimension of the problem. This dam tsunami is threatening Europe´s Blue Heart. Without respect to nature, endangered species, protected areas and people, rivers are being destroyed, their water diverted and whole landscapes are drying up,” says Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch.

Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur adds: “The main drivers for this wave of hydropower-tsunami are corruption, the superficiality of many international financial institutions and misconceived climate protection. This has to be stopped, otherwise the Blue Heart of Europe will have a heart attack.”

The results of the investigation                                                                                                               Comparing the latest update with our 2015 data shows that:
• the speed of construction of new hydropower plants is increasing. Currently, 187 projects are under construction, while in 2015 there were only 61.
• hotspots of ongoing river destruction are Albania (81 projects under construction), Serbia (30), Macedonia (22) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (19).
• in the past 2 years, approximately 160-180 plants have been completed.
• 91% of those under construction are projects with a planned installed capacity below 10 megawatts (MW) for which no Environmental Impact Assessment is required.

Contacts
Ulrich Eichelmann - Riverwatch - ulrich.eichelmann(at)riverwatch.eu - 0043 676 6621512
Anja Arning - EuroNatur - anja.arning(at)euronatur.org - 0049 7732 927213

The campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” is a joint initiative of the NGOs EuroNatur and Riverwatch. Together with partner organisations in the Balkan countries we fight against thousands of hydro power projects on the Balkans to protect Europe´s best remaining rivers.

 

 

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