Dams destroying rivers amid EU raising renewable goals

Credit: Mirjan Aliaj

ROME - A new data set makes the extent of the threat to the Blue Heart of Europe visible: the dam tsunami has started to roll. In the area between Slovenia and Greece, about 2,800 hydropower plants are being planned, 187 are under construction of which more than 1,000 of those (or 37 percent) inside protected areas (118 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. 

 The campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” regularly assesses the hydropower development in the Balkans. Since the last update in 2015, the speed of river destruction has increased.

 “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 die.”                                                                                                           

 Such protests are largely swept aside by the demand for renewable energy as the EU is raising its targets for clean power. The goal for 27 percent of the European Union’s energy consumption to come from renewable sources by 2030 is to be raised to 35 percent.

 Pressure is on to protect the natural world through the increase of green energy and conservation efforts, a task that will likely leave some out in the cold.

Credit: HPP Balkan