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Energy Energy Water

The harrowing consequences of "sustainable" hydropower plants

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by: Peter Sant
The harrowing consequences of "sustainable" hydropower plants

Save Europe's last wild rivers


Waterfall Balkan
The documentary "Blue Heart" is part of the Campaign "Save the Blue Heart of Europe" that offers resistance to the almost 3000 plans that are on the table for the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Balkan region. Hydropower is the only renewable energy source that contributes to climate change, forces people to flee and threatens animal species to become extinct.

The Balkans is an area where, in contrast to the rest of the continent, rivers are still free flowing and healthy. The 270 kilometer long Vjosa in Albania is the largest wild river in Europe. There are plans to build 38 hydropower dams, on one river. There may be 2,796 dams throughout the Balkans.

The American company Patagonia cooperates with NGOs like Riverwatch and EcoAlbania to strengthen the voices of the local population. You see the result in "Blue Heart".

Movement of hope

The documentary map three reasons against the destruction of rivers for the local population and NGOs. It is in Albania over the Vjosa river, in Macedonia over the Mavroro national park and in Bosnia and Herzegovina over the Sava river that also flows through Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia. It shows a nice balance between the distressing future situation and the success stories.
Dams have contributed since 1970 to an average decrease of 81 percent in terms of living in freshwater sources.
Idbar dam Balkan

Idbar Dam Bosnie. Photo by: Andrew Burr

Animal species threatened with extinction

Another consequence would be the destruction of the habitat around and in the rivers. This can ensure that endangered species like the lynx will die out. Dams have contributed since 1970 to an average decrease of 81 percent in terms of living in freshwater sources. Some animal species have therefore already become extinct.
Two thirds of the world's population lives in areas with water shortages. Dams and diversions intensify the problem.
Reservoirs and rivers suffer from a reduced water level as a result of the warming river drainage. Often it rises to temperatures that are fatal for animal species that love cold water. Some parts of the river are also sucked dry, causing local species to die from the warm waters without a place of refuge.
Reducing the flow, retaining heat in reservoirs and causing toxic algal blooms creates poor water quality.
Two thirds of the world's population lives in areas with water shortages. Dams and diversions intensify the problem. A report from the United Nations showed that reservoirs around the world evaporate more water than is used by humans.


No money, no dams

Because there are no precise estimates of the costs of the dams, that industry is very susceptible to corruption. Better alternatives are wind and solar energy. These projects can be built faster and the costs are much more manageable. According to the campaign, worldwide wind and solar energy would create up to four times more jobs than small-scale hydropower projects.
The European bank for reconstruction and development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the International World Bank for Finance (IFC) have to stop investing in hydroelectric power stations, says the requirement in "Blue Heart". In June a petition will be presented to the banks to enforce the requirement.

By: Luka van Royen

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Being involved in sustainability activities has changed my view on this subject a lot. Climate change and pollution are borderless and thus solutions and information has to be shared globally. Rich, 'developed' countries have to start supporting countries that don't have the means and knowledge to improve their situation. Sustainability movement is as strong as its weakest link - whatsorb.com is a helpful platform to speed up the X-Change of Global Sustainability.  
Being involved in sustainability activities has changed my view on this subject a lot. Climate change and pollution are borderless and thus solutions and information has to be shared globally. Rich, 'developed' countries have to start supporting countries that don't have the means and knowledge to improve their situation. Sustainability movement is as strong as its weakest link - whatsorb.com is a helpful platform to speed up the X-Change of Global Sustainability.  
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More by: Peter Sant
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