Freshwater Renewable Energy
Although hydro is a clean energy source, harnessing that power can conflict with nature. This is especially true in the case of large, reservoir-based hydropower facilities, for which the harmful effects on freshwater ecosystems are widely documented, including fragmenting habitat, disrupting hydrological flows and impacts on aquatic species, including fish and their habitats.
For this reason, WWF International and WWF-Canada do not support the creation of large, reservoir-based hydro-power facilities.
We do support habitat-friendly renewable energy. And in the case of hydro power, that means small facilities, including micro-hydro, with particular preference for run-of-river facilities where no reservoirs are built and energy is being produced directly from the unaltered flow of a river.
Even with small hydro-power facilities, it is essential that ecological flows (or e-flows) are incorporated into operations to ensure the natural highs and lows of a river are mirrored throughout the year and to ensure key ecological events such as spring freshets occur as they would in an undammed river. Watch this video to learn more about the role of e-flows in triggering movement of species, replenishing reservoirs and more.
In all cases — large or small — regional-scale energy planning is key to successfully managing the cumulative effects of dam development on freshwater ecosystems.