About The Tool

The purpose of this interactive tool is to identify groups of future Run-of-River projects that overlap the least with user-defined biodiversity values while prioritizing user criteria for power production, cost, and geography. By exploring a range of energy targets and biodiversity values, users can evaluate how different priorities affect the number of new Run-of-River projects required to meet their stated energy target, their annual costs, and the total amount of new infrastructure (roads, powerlines, penstocks) needed to support them across the Province of British Columbia. Our hope is that this solutions-oriented tool can be used by many different groups to guide informed decisions and elevate the dialogue surrounding strategic planning for renewable energy in British Columbia and beyond.


The web tool and its scientific framework has been created over the past 4-years based on input and feedback from >100 interested groups and parties engaged in the development of Run-of-River hydropower in British Columbia. The tool represents an evidence-based framework that aims for a value-neutral presentation of the issues, and the project team has prioritized transparency and the inclusion of diverse perspectives.

The web tool is not prescriptive, and is not designed to address planning or development at local or regional scales, but instead was developed to aid groups from all sectors in identifying trade-offs between energy development and potential environmental effects at the scale of the entire Province of British Columbia.

The web tool uses a dataset of potential future Run-of-River development locations developed by BC Hydro in a decade-long planning process. Though the locations are hypothetical, the relative costs and benefits highlighted by different scenarios are realistic, and can help identify alternative ways to minimize conflicts between energy production and biodiversity conservation at broad geographic scales and over multi-decade time horizons.

The Resource Options Report (2013) dataset used in the web tool was developed by BC Hydro without explicit consideration for First Nations sovereignty. The use of these data by the project team does not constitute endorsement for any potential development locations, and nothing about the current project should be construed as a substitute for formal consultation.

As a group of independent academic scientists, the project team has aimed to objectively judge the accuracy of all data used in this web tool, however all scientific models are a simplified version of reality. The tool includes the best available scientific data, but these and other datasets can and should be updated as new information becomes available.

The project team is based at Simon Fraser University (Dept. of Biological Sciences), and support for this project came from the Gordon and Betty Moore, Wilburforce, and Cedar Tree Foundations, as well as the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and BC Hydro. Funding agencies had no influence on the outcome of this work.

Key Assumptions