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ETIP HYDROPOWER EUROPE: The permanent and common voice of Hydropower in Europe

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ETIP Hydropower Europe (ETIP Hydropower) is a new project in the EU programme Horizon Europe under the call HORIZON-CL5-2021-D3-02-15: Support to the activities of the ETIPs and technology areas of the SET Plan. The goal is to enhance the cooperation among diverse stakeholders from industry, academia, civil society or associations around the hydropower sector, to provide an adequate advice to the development needs and the alignment with the climate and energy policies of the European Union. The project will have a budget of just less than one million euros and will be developed over three years, with the objective of working towards the consolidation of the network beyond this timeframe. 

Definition and need for an ETIP Hydropower

A European Technology and innovation Platform (ETIP) is an EU Coordination and Support Action (CSA) created in 2015 by the European Union in order to contribute to the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) and its roadmap. It seeks to bring together similar initiatives and fora that would allow the cooperation and joint implementation of activities.

The ambitious energy transition targets in Europe require a series of changes towards the adoption of cleaner and low-carbon energy generation. In 2020, according to EUROSTAT, hydropower accounted for one third of the total electricity generated from renewable sources, however, only two thirds of the current feasible potential have been exploited so far. 

This strong development potential, combined with the ability to align supply with demand due to its low variability and unmatched flexibility, makes hydropower a good ally to become a catalyst for energy transition. Still, hydropower faces several environmental, societal, technological, and commercial challenges that demand new approaches. A permanent and common voice of all hydropower stakeholders is needed to support research and innovation actions, as well as increasing public awareness.

Background: HYDROPOWER EUROPE project

HYDROPOWER EUROPE Project was created under the European Union call: “H2020-LC-SC3-2018-2019-2020 (BUILDING A LOW-CARBON, CLIMATE RESILIENT FUTURE: SECURE, CLEAN AND EFFICIENT ENERGY)” and has been running from November 2018 to February 2022. 

Despite the difficulties from COVID19, the project gathered more than 600 stakeholders from the hydropower sector who participated in several consultation processes in the 40 months that the project lasted. The aim was to create a common agreement, reviewing and developing the needs for hydropower in the future. 

After this extensive consultation, the Research and Innovation Agenda (RIA) and the Strategic Industry Roadmap (SIR) were developed. The final reports (~140 pages each) present 18 research themes with 80 topics (RIA) and 11 strategic directions which include 40 detailed actions (SIR), that tackle a wide range of areas, from social acceptance and communication, to environmental strategies and regulations.

The new ETIP Hydropower

The new ETIP Hydropower will be led again by the International Commission of Large Dams (ICOLD) and due to the positive feedback, the rest of the partners will remain the same: SAMUI Research and Consultancy, the European Association for Storage of Energy (EASE), the Association of European Renewable Energy Research Centers (EUREC), VGB Powertech, ZABALA Innovation Europe, the European Renewable Energies Federation (EREF) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

Hydropower Europe project ended with the establishment of a number of strategic actions and research topics after the consultation with an expert panel. For this reason, the consortium, is well suited to integrate these into the SET Plan roadmap and continue consolidating the network of +600 representatives into a sustainable association, which will be interweaved with other renewable energy sector initiatives, with the common objective of supporting the European energy transition.

 The structure for implementing ETIP HYDROPOWER is shown below. Five Working Packages (WP) are proposed alongside with an Advisory Board and the Working Groups (WG).

      • WP1 Coordination: support of the overall ETIP HYDROPOWER project, ensuring its transformation into a sustainable association beyond project timeline
      • WP2 Supporting priority actions for the SET plan, ETIP interaction and collaboration: support the structure of the ETIP governance, implementation of the ETIP processes, interaction with the SET plan and set up and maintain a strategy for cooperation with other ETIPs.
      • WP3 Supporting priority actions for the HPE Forum, RIA and SIR: support the orientation of the industry WGs, the creation and implementation of the detailed mapping of R&I actions.
      • WP4 Strategic actions: support the communication activities that aim to increase awareness and promotion of best practices of the industry
      • WP5 HPE forum sustainability & support services: support across the whole ETIP
      • Advisory Board: produces a mechanism o draw further expertise in the hydropower sector and to help ensure that the ETIP builds from knowledge in the sector
      • ETIP HYDROPOWER WGs: these will be created to address the issues across a variety of topics.

To summarise, ETIP HYDROPOWER aims to promote the role of hydropower as a catalyst in the energy transition of Europe. This requires an objective approach across all aspects of energy sources and finding the optimal pathway. Addressing different aspects of hydropower (i.e., the counterbalancing benefits, the impacts of different forms of hydropower and the solutions to avoid disruptions on biodiversity) is at the core of this ETIP. The successful integration of hydropower into the SET Plan and the European clean energy transition process will have a major impact on this transition and on further research to find solutions to those setbacks.

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