On 8 June 2021, Hydropower Europe hosted the partner event “Hydropower: how to avoid potential pollution sources and to mitigate environmental impacts by innovative measures and concepts.” The event, a part of EU Green Week 2021, was attended by over 70 participants who joined experts in a roundtable discussion to highlight good practices and approaches that should serve as the basic standard for the deployment of hydropower to avoid terrestrial and aquatic pollution and help to mitigate harmful impacts. Experts discussed the challenges regarding potential pollution including environmental as well as social-economic impacts.
Mark Morris from HYDROPOWER EUROPE set the scene with a presentation Hydropower: from pollution to impact. The keynote speech was delivered by Claire Descourtieux, Head of the Environment Department at the EDF Hydro Engineering Centre who presented concrete examples of how to manage potential sources of pollution and potential environmental impacts during the life cycle of a hydropower plant. The roundtable discussion, facilitated by the project coordinator Anton Schleiss, honorary president of ICOLD and professor emeritus at EPFL, was centralised around the topic of how innovation can eliminate and/or reduce the sources of pollution and impacts.
The event resulted in several conclusions from participants and experts. First, the role of hydropower should be to provide support to the energy system rather than as a mass supplier. Hydro is overwhelmingly perceived as without pollution but with environmental impacts; in many countries, small hydropower projects do not need rigorous environmental impact assessments or the limit for their environmental impact is set relatively high. Therefore, greater legal and regulatory enforcement practices are imperative. Finally, even though there seem to be a lot of R&I actions focusing on impact issues with hydropower, it is unclear how effective these solutions are.
The outcomes provided a rich source of ideas and suggestions for the HYDROPOWER EUROPE Forum to consider whilst finalising their main documents, which comprise the Research and Innovation Agenda and Strategic Industry Roadmap for hydropower in Europe.
Read the press release here