Demo: Conservationists against new construction of hydroelectric power plants
Climate protection and renewable energies are the topics of the future. But even with wind and solar energy, the expansion plans occasionally collide with nature conservation. Conservationists see a solution in new hydroelectric power plants.
Conservationists are again calling on the state government to refrain from building a new hydroelectric power station on the Salzach. The power plant would harm fish and further cut off the river from the adjacent floodplains, warns the Bund Naturschutz in Bayern (BN). In addition, the backwater would lead to the deposition of sediment and thus destroy the riverbed as a habitat.
On Saturday (11:00 a.m.) the “Salzach Habitat Community”, which also belongs to the BN, wants to demonstrate against the power plant plans. Instead of building a new one, the conservationists are calling for the river to be renatured quickly. The action group wants to emphasize this demand at a rally under the motto “For the Salzach as a natural river”.
The BN is not fundamentally opposed to hydropower, the association emphasized. One could think about replacing existing power plants or modernizing them with technologies that protect fish and the river landscape. However, the association fundamentally rejects the construction of new hydroelectric power plants. In the long run, generating electricity with water makes neither ecological nor economic sense, says Stefan Ossyssek, consultant for species and biotope protection.
According to BN, the Österreichische Verbund AG wants to build the power plant on the Salzach, the border river between Austria and Germany, with the support of the Bavarian state government. As a running water power plant, it would use modern technology that protects the river bed and fish. In the final stage, however, it would only generate as much electricity as two to three wind turbines, critics say. Energy production with wind power and solar energy is significantly cheaper. Added to this are the consequences of climate change. The power plants would have to be shut down in the event of flooding or insufficient water.
According to the State Office for the Environment, there are currently a good 4,200 hydroelectric power plants in Bavaria with a total output of a good 2.9 gigawatts. The systems with an output of at least 1000 kilowatts are mainly located on the Alpine Danube tributaries Iller, Lech, Wertach, Isar and Inn as well as on the Danube and the Main.
Environmentalists have criticized hydropower damage for years. It is said that small hydroelectric power plants in particular are not ecological. Around 3,500 micro hydroelectric power plants with an output of less than 100 kilowatts only contribute 0.3 percent to Bavarian electricity generation. However, each of the systems interrupts the natural course of the river.
The approximately 60 largest power plants with a capacity of more than ten megawatts supplied about two thirds of Bavaria’s electricity from hydropower. Overall, hydropower only accounts for 14 percent of the total gross electricity generation in Bavaria.