Swedish hydro plan balances ecological needs






  Sweden’s hydropower output should be cut by no more than 2.3% a year, or 1.5 terrawatt hours, while the country tries to improve the biodiversity of its rivers and lakes, according to a new strategy developed by the water and energy agencies.

  The plan attempts to balance Sweden’s need for renewable energy against its obligations under the EU water framework directive.

  The country has 2,100 hydropower plants, around 10% of which have a capacity over 10 megawatts. The larger ones also play a key role in managing electricity supply.

  Many of the plants were built when environmental permitting requirements were more lax and improvements are needed to reduce their impact on biodiversity.

  However, it is best to focus environmental improvements in the areas where they will be most effective, the strategy says. Areas that are particularly important for hydropower production should concentrate on this instead. Exemptions from some of the water framework directive’s requirements are also permitted for heavily modified catchments.

  New developments and upgrades on the Lule river, for example, which has already around 20 large plants responsible for 20% of national output, should focus on the main part of the river rather than its tributaries, some of which are in protected areas.

  The plan should cost the hydropower sector no more than SEK500m (€54m) and will be reassessed annually to ensure it brings ecological improvements fast enough.

Excerpted from ENDS Europe DAILY