The small hydropower plants boom in Ukraine Print
News Waterfall - News Waterfall #1
Friday, 01 June 2012 16:40

The public and independent experts in the field of ecology and geology called the small hydropower plants (hereinafter — the small HPPs) in the Carpathian region an environmental issue number 1 in Ukraine. However, not all are of the same opinion. For the authorities it is one of the priorities for the country development in the energy sector by 2030, and for owners of small hydro power plants — the source of their income.

In particular, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved “State economic program of energy efficiency and the development of energy production from renewable energy sources and alternative fuels in 2010–2015” (the Decree № 243 from March 1, 2012), which includes measures to restore small HPPs and building of new facilities, including pilot projects to build new small HPPs, renovation and construction of small HHPs. The funding for these measures is foreseen of 331 million UAH in 2012 and of 1020 million UAH for the 2013–2014. The greatest interest as of energy resources has been given to the small rivers in the Carpathian region, where there are about 30 thousands small rivers and streams. The impetus for the small HHP boom for the investors was the introduction of green tariff (Article 17.1 of the Law of Ukraine “On Electro power industry”) up till 2030 on the electricity produced from alternative sources with a coefficient of 0,8% for small HPPs. In addition, in the draft Law “On amending of the Law of Ukraine “On electro power industry” (to promote alternative energy sources) it is envisaged an increase of the amount of green tariff for small HPPs up to 1.6% and for mini and medium HPPs at a rate of 2 and 1.2%.

There would be no benefits for local residents. After all, experience of other HPPs shows that energy is not supplied by a producer directly to local population, and electricity prices for them have not become cheaper. Moreover, the government says nothing about the reduction of amount of electricity sold for export or decrease of its production by nuclear power plants. Accordingly, such substitution from traditional energy sources to renewable is questionable. According to the eco-NGOs and independent experts intake of water from the main part of the mountain river due to construction of small HPPs can cause several adverse effects on the environment: changing the habitat of animals and plants; loss of rare and endangered species of animals and plants, plant groups; overlapping ways of free migration of fish and obstruction of spawning of fish; the development of adverse geological processes (landslides, erosion of river banks, etc.), which is one of the urgent problems of Carpathian region; change of the natural landscape and loss of recreational attractiveness; the impact on the development of natural hydro-biological processes, namely the possibility of changes in the hydrological regime of rivers, and in some cases – changes to the river bed. Construction of dams cascade for small HPPs creates risks during floods in mountainous areas due to the destruction of dams and flooded areas.

It should be noted that public participation in the issues of construction of small HPPs is not provided at the appropriate level, a public hearings are held with violation of legislation on public participation (including the requirements of the Aarhus Convention regarding the proper consideration of public opinion), with limited access to information on the impact of construction on the environment. In particular, in a letter of intent published in a local newspaper it was stated that there would not be any impact on the aquatic and geological environment, soil, plants and animals while the construction of hydro facilities is classified in the list of activities and objects of high environmental hazard, as defined by the Cabinet of the Ministers on July 27, 1995 № 554.

Prepared by Natalia Shpeg, lawyer International public interest environmental law organization “Environment-People-Law” (EPL) This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Read more: