Hydropower ‘craze’ threatens Europe's last pristine river ecosystems

Aquatic ecosystems have already been decimated by thousands of small hydroelectric dams, and continuing rampant deployment is threatening to destroy Europe's remaining untouched river ecosystems, according to a report published on Thursday.

The comprehensive survey by WWF, RiverWatch, GEOTA and EuroNatur – billed as the first Europe-wide inventory of hydroelectric plants – reveals plans to build at least 8,785 new dams in addition to more than 21,000 already in place on Europe's rivers.

Rather than huge dams and reservoirs often associated with hydroelectric power, 90% of the planned installations would have a generation capacity of 10MW or less, with 5,084 of them designed to produce less than 1MW, the survey found.

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