Assessment of the Combined Hydropower Impacts on the Ecosystems and Ecological Status of Rivers (ANCHOR)

Assessment of the Combined Hydropower Impacts on the Ecosystems and Ecological Status of Rivers (ANCHOR)

Source of funding

Financial Mechanism (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein)

Name of client/donor

Bulgarian Ministry of Environment

Overall project value

EUR 218,501


May 2015 – January 2017

Beneficiary countries


Number of staff


Hydroelectric power plants (HPP) provide the biggest share of renewable energy in Bulgaria, contributing to the security of energy supply by offsetting peak consumption times and uneven wind and solar energy production. At the same time, the construction and operation of HPPs causes many negative impacts on natural river ecosystems, such as the fragmentation of river habitats and changes in river morphology, on which flora and fauna are highly dependent.

The main objective of the project was to analyse the combined impact of HPPs on river ecosystems and to propose a methodology for the classification of river stretches according to their admissibility for the construction of hydroelectric power plants, applying the common approach to sustainable hydroelectricity defined by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR).

ANCHOR developed a study on HPP impacts on aquatic organisms, water quality elements and Natura 2000 areas. The project proposed an assessment methodology, applicable at two levels: the river basin and individual investment projects. It also carried out pilot testing, using GIS and on-site surveys. The results have been integrated into river basin management plans for 2016–2021.

  • Studying the combined effects of hydropower on river ecosystems, based on existing data and research.
  • Analysing EU and European Economic Area best practices for the assessment of hydropower potential and methodologies for the classification of river sections eligible for the construction of HPPs.
  • Transferring knowledge.
  • Developing a national methodology for hydropower assessment, based on the ICPDR approach.
  • Testing the methodology in selected pilot areas for Eastern Aegean and Western Aegean river basin districts in Bulgaria.
  • Ensuring stakeholder consultations and the integration of stakeholder input in river basin management plans.
  • Providing project management, coordination and quality control.
  • Project management
  • Coordination
  • Communication and information dissemination
  • Development of studies
  • Development of methodologies and policy and legislative proposals