Hydropower pressure on European rivers: The story in numbers

Posted on December, 02 2019

The first ever Europe-wide inventory of hydropower plants shows rivers to be saturated with hydropower dams and thousands more on the cards. This is despite EU rules which should limit new hydropower plants.
Commissioned by WWF, RiverWatch, GEOTA and EuroNatur, the study provides damning evidence of governments’ failure to protect rivers and biodiversity, demonstrating a blatant disregard for EU water and nature protection laws. 

28% of all planned hydropower plants are in protected areas, the vast majority in national parks and Natura 2000 sites. The study also evidences an alarming rise in small hydropower, which wreaks environmental havoc whilst producing very little energy. With more than a third of European freshwater fish species currently threatened with extinction -  of which hydropower dams are a key driver -  European rivers and their biodiversity cannot cope with the pressure of more hydropower. 

Key findings:  
  • Europe is already saturated with 21,387 hydropower plants
  • Despite this, 8,785 additional plants which are planned or under construction
  • 28% of all planned hydropower is in protected areas (33% in the EU)
  • 91% of the plants recorded by the study are small plants, which produce negligible amounts of energy (less than 10MW)

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Hydropower pressure on European rivers: The story in numbers by WWF, RiverWatch, EuroNatur, GEOTA is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License