European Hydropower Industry Urges Attention from Brussels
Posted 30/10/2023 11:55
In a bid to address challenges faced by Europe's longstanding hydropower sector, the EU's major players in the industry have come together to form an alliance seeking support from Brussels. Despite its historical significance, the hydropower industry is grappling with slow growth amid increasing emphasis on wind and solar energy, compounded by a challenging investment climate.
The key challenge highlighted by Xabier Viteri, Managing Director of Iberdrola Renewables, is the lack of a viable business case for the industry. The sector's primary demands include financial aid for hydropower projects and a market framework that recognizes the sector's contributions to grid stability.
In addition to economic hurdles, regulatory barriers such as prolonged environmental impact assessments and authorization processes have further impeded the industry's progress, noted Viteri.
Advocating for a hydropower strategy akin to those established for the solar and wind sectors, the industry is seeking greater recognition and support from the European Union. However, the European Commission currently maintains a stance that there is minimal necessity for a specific hydropower strategy, citing the industry's rooted presence within Europe.
The newly-founded EU Hydropower Alliance, consisting of ten major industry players, has been actively promoting the importance of the hydropower sector, emphasizing its significant contribution to the EU's energy mix. Despite its historical significance, the sector faces increasing challenges, especially in the wake of the dominance of wind and solar energy.
One potential avenue for the industry lies in the repowering of old hydropower dams, offering a relatively cost-effective means to bolster electricity generation. However, the impacts on biodiversity, particularly in the case of small-scale river dams, have become a matter of concern for conservation groups such as WWF.
The European Commission's view on the industry emphasizes limitations on growth, particularly beyond pumped hydropower and small hydropower extensions, acknowledging the inevitable environmental impacts associated with such endeavors.