University of Oulu

Emanuele Quaranta, George Aggidis, Robert M. Boes, Claudio Comoglio, Carlo De Michele, Epari Ritesh Patro, Evgeniia Georgievskaia, Atle Harby, Ioannis Kougias, Sebastian Muntean, Juan Pérez-Díaz, Pedro Romero-Gomez, Marco Rosa-Clot, Anton J. Schleiss, Elena Vagnoni, Markus Wirth, Alberto Pistocchi, Assessing the energy potential of modernizing the European hydropower fleet, Energy Conversion and Management, Volume 246, 2021, 114655, ISSN 0196-8904,

Assessing the energy potential of modernizing the European hydropower fleet

Saved in:
Author: Quaranta, Emanuele1; Aggidis, George2; Boes, Robert M.3;
Organizations: 1European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
2Lancaster University Renewable Energy Group, Lancaster, United Kingdom
3Laboratory of Hydraulics and Glaciology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
4Politecnico di Torino, Italy
5Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy
6Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy, and University of Oulu, Finland
7Center of Design and Technological Innovation, Russia
8SINTEF, Norway
9Center for Fundamental and Advanced Technical Research, Romanian Academy – Timisoara Branch, Timisoara, Romania
10Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid (UPM), Spain
11Andritz Hydro, 4031 Linz, Austria
12University of Florence, Italy
13Hydropower Europe Forum & Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
14Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
15Voith Hydro GmbH & Co. KG, Germany
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-01-17


About 50% of all hydropower plants (HPPs) worldwide were originally commissioned more than 40 years ago, so that the advanced age of the fleet is a major concern across all continents, and especially in Europe. The modernization of HPPs can generate several benefits in terms of generation, flexibility, safety, operation, and may have neutral or even positive implications for the environment. In this work, we appraise several options for the modernization of existing plants, with the exclusion of measures expected to increase the hydro-morphological pressure on water bodies (e.g. increase of withdrawals or new parallel waterways): dam heightening, head loss reduction in waterways, increase of weighted efficiency of electro-mechanical equipment, digitalization and inflow forecast, and floating photovoltaic (evaporation reduction). We provide an indicative estimation of the additional power and annual generation that could be obtained compared to the current condition. We estimate that the overall energy generation could be increased by 8.4% for European Union and 9.4% for the whole Europe by implementing the above-mentioned strategies. The additional energy gain achievable by increasing the inflow was discussed but not included in the above mentioned overall indicator, because it is very site-specific. The additional energy storage achievable by reservoir interconnection and coordinated operation has been estimated in literature as 169 TWh. This suggests that the modernization of HPPs can generate significant benefits in terms of energy, and should be considered as an important element of energy policy, also considering the additional benefits in terms of reliability and flexibility of the energy system that it may deliver. The modernization options considered here, insofar as not entailing a worsening of the hydro-morphological alterations, are also expected to cause limited or no conflict with the environmental objectives of water policies in Europe.

see all

Series: Energy conversion and management
ISSN: 0196-8904
ISSN-E: 1879-2227
ISSN-L: 0196-8904
Volume: 246
Article number: 114655
DOI: 10.1016/j.enconman.2021.114655
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (