Ten European energy giants establish Hydropower Alliance

by Cristian Florescu

A group of significant hydropower plant operators adopted a platform as the Hydropower Alliance, asking the European Commission to adopt a strategy for the sector, including pumped storage.

The energy crisis has caused investors to shift their focus to hydropower. Despite the ongoing drought in Europe and public resistance to small hydroelectric projects, the newly-formed Hydropower Alliance is searching for ways to provide reassurance to companies operating in this sector. During a meeting with its representatives in Brussels, the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, graciously acknowledged the Hydropower Alliance for uniting the largest players with a combined capacity of 111 GW. Simson emphasized the importance of hydropower as a critical source of renewable electricity for the European Union.

According to ANSA, Enel, EDP, EDF, Engie, Iberdrola, Fortum, Statkraft, Uniper, Vattenfall and Verbund stated that hydropower plays a crucial role in the energy transition. They emphasized the need for investments to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The platform also highlighted the affordability, dependability, and safety of its renewable electricity technology.

The article suggests that hydropower can be very helpful in incorporating large amounts of renewable energy from sources that are not constant into the system. This can provide flexibility, including storage. The utilities mentioned that it would be beneficial to repower existing facilities and install more of them to help achieve the EU’s goals.

The Hydropower Alliance respectfully made a request to the executive body of the 27-member bloc to create a reliable, sustainable, and appropriate economic, political, and legal framework for investments. They stressed the significance of having a strategy that aligns with other renewable sources and recommended the inclusion of hydropower in the list of strategic technologies.

Up until now, the EU has primarily focused on renovating and improving existing facilities. However, some individuals in the community and environmental advocates, who typically oppose new initiatives due to their potential harm, suggest that there may be limited untapped potential for sustainability. Additionally, the recent severe drought that affected the entire continent has caused hydropower reservoirs to once again dry up, which raises concerns about the practicality of proposed investments.

The FHE respectfully proposes that France’s hydropower sector has the potential to increase by 20%, which would be equivalent to the total imports of coal and gas from last winter.

The role of pumped storage is extremely important as it helps to store excess electricity from wind and solar power plants during periods of low demand, and then release it back to the grid during times of high demand, such as unexpected and unfavourable weather conditions. Currently, it is the only conventional energy storage technology available, as batteries are expensive and not readily available.

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