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Boosting renewable energies with hydropower

Hydropower Day 2023

Hydropower Day 2023 took place last 25 April. More than 60 people joined the first edition of the event in person in Brussels and another 100 supported it online with the objective of being informed about the latest developments about the energy regulatory framework, and how does hydropower fit in that future landscape.

Hydropower technology is centuries’ years old and has historically contributed to the modernisation of several areas of Europe. In more recent times, it has been a key enabler of the industrial development and therefore, of the improvement of the welfare of citizens. Nowadays, hydropower could take again its former grandeur and become the catalyst and enabler of the ambitious energy transition plan in Europe because, while wind and solar energies often have difficulties to align supply and demand, hydropower boasts of a high flexibility and potential for storage capacity, enabling an easy integration with the aforementioned sources.

Hydropower Day 2023: the importance of collaboration

The event, The added value of the hydropower sector as a catalyst and enabler in the clean and safe energy transition under the energy crisis, was opened by Ms Hélène Chraye, Deputy Director for the Clean Planet initiative at the European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD), and Mr Anton Schleiss, professor emeritus at the Polytechnic Federal School of Lausanne (EPFL in French) and coordinator of ETIP Hydropower. They both stressed the flexibility that this technology can provide to the mix and the importance of joining efforts with all other renewables to achieve the net-zero carbon scenario set by the European Union.

The keynote speakers, Ms Mathilde Lallemand, Policy Officer from the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission (DG ENER), and Ms Ana Paula Moreira, Head of European Affairs of the national energy company in Portugal (EDP) reiterated the role of hydropower as an affordable, dispatchable, secure and easily storable source, by talking about the recent Reform of the EU electricity market design and providing examples such as the one of Alqueva project, a mix of solar and hydropower, respectively.

After these, Hydropower Day offered the participants three big session blocks with open panel discussions, about the following topics:

  • The added value of hydropower and energy storage in the energy transition and within the energy crisis
  • Best practice examples to tackle economic, environmental and societal challenges with hydropower
  • Synergies and collaboration with ETIPs, EERA and other sector organisations for the integrated use of renewables in view of safe electricity supply

All panel discussions thrived with an active participation the online and onsite audience, who were especially curious about the speeches made by Mr Peter Lustenberger, who presented several cases of projects negotiated with civil society in the giant hydropower player: Switzerland; Mr Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA, who talked about the Sustainability Standard; Ms Liv Randi Hultgreen, who represented the European Energy and Research Alliance and whom with ETIP hydropower is bound to closely collaborate, or Mr Jeffrey Tuhtan, who surprised the attendees with an engaging presentation about how important it is to understand fish behaviour to avoid environmental damage.

Zabala Innovation in the spotlight and beyond

Zabala Innovation Europe, as dissemination partner in ETIP Hydropower, supported the organisation of the event, that had been foreseen since the most embryonic phases of the project. But the participation of Zabala Innovation did not remain on the backstage: the European technology & innovation platform for Smart Networks for Energy Transition (ETIP SNET), an EU initiative coordinated by the company, had its own slot during session three. In addition, exceptional efforts were made in the live dissemination of the event, that granted the attention of European Commission communication services.

The day after, the ETIP Hydropower consortium took a moment to reflect upon and set future steps for the development of the project. Zabala Innovation Europe will develop a catalogue of best practices for hydropower sustainability as one of the main products of the project and has been invited to be an active member in the international Communication and Advocacy Taskforce for hydropower as a representative of ETIP Hydropower.