In Lithuania, project leader Petras Punys explains that there are 300 potential sites, 30 of which are on fish migrating rivers and so are threatened with demolition. “But we can bring all these mills, little dams and weirs back to life while at the same time protecting the wildlife, with fish runs and other measures,” says Punys, adding “Small-scale hydro projects improve the quality of the environment.” By bringing together small-scale hydropower sites within a region into a local cooperative, the RESTOR Hydro project intends to stimulate investment and boost acceptance through community participation. “A small hydro power citizen cooperative is an asset financially and technically for the success and the lifespan of a project,” says Bridget Petit at France Hydro Électricité, project leader for France, in partnership with the Fédération des Moulins de France.
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