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Key hydropower sector stakeholders meet to shape hydropower’s role in the clean energy transition

The #HPEOnlineWorkshop was part of the HYDROPOWER EUROPE consultation process on a Research and Innovation Agenda (RIA) and a Strategic Industry Roadmap (SIR) for the hydropower sector in Europe. Stakeholders were able to debate and share their views on policy and regulatory issues, technical challenges, and environmental and social issues relating to the future of hydropower and hydropower’s role as a catalyst for the clean energy transition in Europe.

At the beginning of day one, policy officers from DG ENER and DG ENV introduced policy and regulatory issues helping to decarbonise Europe. This will serve to design a supportive EU framework for the hydropower sector. Next, technical challenges and R&I priorities were addressed to help in developing innovative concepts and technologies to boost hydropower potential. Collaboration among hydropower sector stakeholders and the public is key for hydropower’s future in Europe. In The Energy and Climate Objectives 2030, the Commission strives to reduce up til 40% greenhouse gas emissions. The renewables aim to cover 32% of energy.

The introduction was followed by four separate parallel group discussions.  In the first, experts shared their views on market structure and regulatory mechanisms to support hydropower development in Europe. The second group focused on improving the European funding offer for hydropower R&I. In the third, participants explored the question of whether hydropower is a key flexibility asset for the future European energy system. The attendees in the last group discussed the performance and resilience of infrastructure. As per Commission’s Climate target plan, shares of hydropower decreases from 14% in 2015 to 9% in policy scenarios but grows in absolute terms from 29 Mtoe to 32 Mtoe (see graph below).

Day two kicked-off with civil society organisations such as the WWF and the Global Water Programme addressing the impacts of hydropower on the environment. Best practices and solutions to make hydropower energy more environmentally-friendly, such as bottom-up small hydropower projects in the Netherlands, eco run-of-river hydropower, and system-scale planning for low-carbon, low-cost, and low-conflict development of renewables were presented. Throughout the workshop, the importance of industry and civil society working together to ensure public support for hydropower was emphasised.

Again, there were four parallel group discussions on day two. Best practices and solutions to increase public acceptance of hydropower were discussed in the first group. In the second, environmentally compatible solutions and benefits of hydropower projects were addressed. The topics of the third and fourth groups focused on the environmental impacts on rivers’ flow and on the biodiversity of hydropower, respectively.

The recordings and the presentations from the main sessions are accessible once registered for the wider stakeholder consultation at this link.

Online consultation open until 31 October

The HYDROPOWER EUROPE Forum has been working on a consultation process through online consultations as well as regional and technical workshops. As a result, feedback from diverse stakeholders including hydropower expert groups, industry actors, energy providers, civil society, environmental organisations and other interested parties is being collected to help in shaping R&I priorities for hydropower.

The outcomes of the workshop will contribute to finalising recommendations for the future direction and role of hydropower in Europe. There is still time to provide feedback on the role of hydropower in the clean energy transition by participating in the 2nd Stakeholder Online Consultation. The consultation process will close at the end of October 2020.