PRESS RELEASE - Hydropower: The Key to Europe's Energy Transition?


ETIP HYDROPOWER organised the first edition of the “Brussels Hydropower Day” last 25th April 2023 giving a common voice to the sector


ETIP HYDROPOWER successfully organised the first edition the annual event “Brussels Hydropower Day” on 25th April 2023 under the title: “The added value of the hydropower sector as a catalyst and enabler in the clean and safe energy transition under the energy crisis”. Both the speakers and more than 120 participants contributed to the interesting and fruitful discussions, both online and in-person, in the exciting and informative event that brought together all stakeholder groups in the sector to discuss opportunities and barriers in the deployment of hydropower.

As Europe faces the challenges of the energy transition, the energy crisis, and changing market and regulatory conditions, the opportunities and barriers facing hydropower deployment are more complex than ever. Many hydropower systems could still be extended and upgraded by the modernisation of equipment or increasing their storage capacity. Furthermore 17 countries in Europe have so far tapped less than 50% of their economically feasible potential, if the market conditions would ask for it. However, to unlock the remaining potential is extremely challenging due to, among others, socioeconomical and environmental barriers, that can only be overcome with widely acceptable sustainable solutions.



The “Brussels Hydropower Day” was created following the needs of the hydropower sector to bring together a wide range of stakeholder groups and policymakers at the European level. The aim was to provide a space for presentation of the key services provided by hydropower to the grid and electricity system and for discussion and collaboration on the most pressing issues that affect the deployment of hydropower in Europe and beyond.

Through a series of engaging presentations and panel discussions, participants at the “Brussels Hydropower Day 2023” gained new insights into best practice for hydropower deployment, including examples of market design, flexibility, and biodiversity requirements.  They also had the opportunity to participate in the dialogue about cooperation with other energy platforms within the SET Plan (European Strategic Energy Technology Plan) on approaches to ensure energy system integration and a flexible safe energy supply.



The Hydropower Day was opened by Ms Hélène Chraye, Deputy Director for the Clean Planet initiative at the European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) and Mr. Anton Schleiss, professor emeritus at the Ecole Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and scientific coordinator of ETIP HYDROPOWER. They promoted the important and often ignored role which hydropower has to play in the current global energy landscape and the potential that it still has for helping to achieve the future net-zero carbon target set by the European Union. Hydropower has to export the European values, sustainability and circularity and use them as a competitive advantage. There is a need to support European hydropower exportation as well as to involve European citizens through the recognition of the benefits of hydropower.

This opening was followed by two keynote speeches, which were then followed by three thematic blocks, each with an open discussion panel about the following topics:

    • The added value of hydropower and energy storage in the energy transition and within the energy crisis
    • Best practice examples to tackle economic, environmental and societal challenges with hydropower
    • Synergies and collaboration with European Technology Industry Platforms (ETIPs), European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) and other sector organisations for the integrated use of renewables in view of safe electricity supply

Ms Mathilde Lallemand, Policy Officer from the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission (DG ENER), was the first keynote speaker of the day and told us about the Reform of the Electricity Market Design. She presented three major tools: Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Two-way Contracts for Differences (CfDs) for public support for new investments, and forward markets. She concluded that the role of hydropower in providing such flexibility will be key. The second keynote speaker, Ms Ana Paula Moreira, Head of European Affairs of the national energy company in Portugal (EDP), presented the audience with good practice examples from Portugal, such as the scheme at Alqueva, a multipurpose large reservoir that integrates both solar and hydropower sources.

The first session included presentations from Mr Ghislain Weisrock from France Hydro Electricité; Ms Sera Lazaridou, from Hydroexigiantiki Consulting Engineers, Greece and Mr Peter Lustenberger, from AXPO Power, Switzerland. Ghislain Weisrock presented a study on the French power system which estimates that the flexibility needs in 2050 will be 7 or 8 times the current provisions. But the lack of profitability for the use of flexible technology explains the main threat to achieving these requirements. The new market model has to find an appropriate framework in order to invest in flexibility and to maintain existing services. Ms Sera Lazaridou showed that the total hydropower production in Greece focuses on multipurpose use and she highlighted its important role in the event of extraordinary system energy demand. She also outlined that pumped-storage projects are on the rise in Greece. The main objectives & targets of the New National Energy & Climate Plan (ENCP), based on draft announcements, promotes until 20230 additional pumped-storage schemes with a capacity of 2.5 GW and also an increase of the increased hydropower capacity of 4GW. Mr Peter Lustenberger shared the Swiss experience of roundtable negotiation to achieve a common understanding for reaching zero emissions target, ensuring the security of the energy supply and preserving biodiversity in Switzerland. Through this process, with agreement on the 2 TWh additional winter energy goal until 2040, 15 hydropower storage projects were recommended for development, to support and ensure the energy strategy 2050.

The second session showed best practice to tackle the three main current challenges: climate change, biodiversity change and the energy crisis. The economic, challenge was covered by Ms Maryse François, from MFX Consulting; the societal by Mr Eddie Rich from IHA, and the environmental, by Mr Jeffrey Tuhtan, Professor at the Tallin University of Technology.

By showing examples of China, Australia, Israel and Switzerland Maryse Francois claimed that pumped-storage plants are mandatory to support intermittent renewable energy and to achieve the net zero carbon emission target, and for this reason, a long-term vision of tariff and policy is needed. This includes simplifying the licensing process, reducing permitting processing time, rewarding services provided, defining long-term policy/contract and valorising multi-purpose water use. She mentioned IEA: “Hydropower is the forgotten giant of clean electricity, and it needs to be put squarely back on the energy and climate agenda if countries are serious about meeting their net zero goals”.  

Professor Jeffrey Tuhtan presented the impressive results of a new research field, etho-hydraulics, which uses digital monitoring technologies for monitoring fish behaviour at hydropower plants, and which could provide the necessary reporting data for the EU taxonomy’s Technical Screening Criteria (TSC) and Do No Significant Harm Criteria (DNSH) and could also offer the opportunity to quantify the effects of climate change on fish migration.

Eddie Rich stated that irresponsible hydropower projects are no longer acceptable. The Hydropower Sustainability Standard has been developed by a multi-stakeholder council including governments, hydropower companies, environmental and social NGOs and financial institutions. This standard will help to demonstrate sustainability, build trust and reputation, manage risk with independent audits, align with industry and investors, and access climate bonds.

The third session focused on collaboration with other energy associations and platforms. The work done under ASPIRE collaboration, whose scope is to promote predictable and reliable renewable technologies, was introduced by a representative of Ocean Europe, Mr Donagh Cagney; Ms Liv Randi Hultgreen, explained how EERA and ETIP HYDROPOWER align and are bound to collaborate. The future participation of ETIP HYDROPOWER in the revision of the SET Plan and in the ETIP Forum was introduced and commented on by Mr Thomas Schleker representing EC Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Finally, Mr Jean-Louis Drommi closed the third session by exposing a few takeaways of the project XFLEX HYDRO. He confirmed that the hybridization of hydro and small size battery can save up to 90% wear & tear of turbine mechanisms.

Finally, Dr Mark Morris, from SAMUI France, closed the presentations by introducing the audience to the ETIP HYDROPOWER project and the next steps that will be taken to participate in the transition to a future association. He identified a key role of the ETIP HYDROPOWER project being to help unify the hydropower sector, presenting a single voice on key issues, and thus enhancing and complementing the role of existing associations. Finally, he invited the audience to participate in the Terms of Reference Survey and in consultation on the priorities of the future self-sustaining and unifying hydropower association through the online consultation platform (https://hydro-consultation.eu/ ). The responsible EC officer for the ETIP HYDROPOWER project, Mr Sébastien Mortier, highlighted its importance in the ongoing energy transition framework.

All the sessions included a panel discussion which further deepened, completed and enhanced the added value of the hydropower sector as a catalyst and enabler in the clean and safe energy transition under the energy crisis. The panel involved all speakers, and in Session 2 also Mr. Diar Isid, EC Policy Officer from Directorate-General for Environment; Mr Olivier Tricca, Power Engineer from European Investment Bank and Mr Benjamin Graff, Open Innovation Manager from Companie Nationale de Rhône (CNR), France.




The ETIP HYDROPOWER project was shaped following the previous HYDROPOWER EUROPE Forum project which was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme that ran between 2018 and 2022.  The hydropower Research and Innovation Agenda (RIA) and the Strategy Industry Roadmap (SIR) were created under the HYDROPOWER EUROPE project.


The project started in September 2022 and is expected to end in August 2025 and has been granted EUR 1 million Euros under the call dedicated to “Support to the activities of the ETIPs and technology areas of the SET Plan”.



Anton Schleiss (ICOLD)

Coordination Team



Janire García (ZABALA Innovation)

Communication & Dissemination




Anton Schleiss at the IAHR webinar series

This webinar led by the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR) belongs to a series featuring young professionals thus recognising the effort of young professionals in the sector while promoting the collaboration and dissemination of their work.

This particular one focused on Research, Policy and Sustainable Opportunities and navigated the complexities of the hydropower sector within the enegy system, and its role in EU directives such as the Water Framework Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive, also known as "REPowerEU". Achieving a sustainable hydropower requires a careful balance between electricity generation, social benefits and the impact on ecosystems and biodiversity which has brought many debates among stakeholders in the hydropower value chain.

Our colleague from ICOLD, Dr Anton Schleiss, was invited to chair the the roundtable discussion that included: 

    • Mr Francisco Pinto, Univeristy of Porto, Portugal
    • Mr Emanuele Quaranta, EC Joint Research Centre
    • Ms Debbie Gray, International Hydropower Association (IHA)
    • Mr Daniel Valero, Karlsruhe Insitute of  Technology (KIT), Germany

Read more details and watch the recording of the session in the official website of the event.

HYDROPOWER DAY: The added value of the hydropower sector as a catalyst and enabler in the clean and safe energy transition under the energy crisis

The BRUSSELS HYDROPOWER DAY 2023 will take place next 25 April 2023. It aims to provide a platform for decision makers in the European Commission and Parliament, who are working on relevant policy files concerning hydropower. The purpose is to discuss opportunities and barriers affecting hydropower deployment in the framework of the energy transition within the energy crisis and the market as well as regulation conditions.

Why attend?

  • Find out more about the added value of hydropower and energy storage in the energy transition, within the energy crisis and regulation conditions 
  • Learn about best practice in hydropower deployment with examples of market design, flexibility and biodiversity requirements
  • Join the discussion about cooperation with other ETIPs/sectors within the SET Plan on approaches to ensure energy system integration and a flexible safe energy supply.
  • Be informed about the next steps of ETIP HYDROPOWER towards “Unifying the voices of hydro­power in Europe”. 


08:30 – 09:15: Registration
09:15 – 9:30: Welcome and opening

Speaker: Hélène Chraye, Head of Unit, DG RTD

09:30 – 10:10: Keynote speeches: Hydropower in Europe and worldwide 

09:30 – 09:50: Keynote 1: The potential for hydropower in the context of current EU policies

Speaker: Mathilde Lallemand-Dupuy, Policy Officer, European Commission, DG ENER

09:50 – 10:10: Keynote 2: The important role of hydropower development in the European safe energy transition

Speaker: Raquel Marques Mendes, Head of European Affairs at EDP

10:10 – 10:30: Coffee break

10:30 – 12:00: Session 1: The added value of hydropower and energy storage in the energy transition and within the energy crisis

10:30 – 10:45: Presentation 1: The importance of flexibility contribution of hydropower

Speaker: Ghislain Weisrock, Special Advisor for European Affairs and Power System, France Hydro Electricité

10:45 – 11:00: Presentation 2: The benefits of hydropower for local communities: A case study

Speaker: Sera Lazaridou, Senior Partner, Hydroexigiantiki Consulting Engineers Greece

11:00 – 11:15: Presentation 3: Fifteen new storage increase projects in Switzerland negotiated at the roundtable with civil society

Speaker: Peter Lustenberger, Senior Expert Asset Management, Hydroenergie & Biomasse, AXPO Power Switzerland

11:15 – 12:00: Open Panel discussion: Keynote speakers and session 1 speakers are invited to the panel.

12:00 – 13:15: Lunch Break

13:15 – 14:45: Session 2: Best practice examples to tackle economic, environmental and societal challenges with hydropower 

13:15 – 13:30: Presentation 1: Best practice example on Market design

Speaker: Maryse Francois, CEO, MFX Consulting

13:30 – 13:45: Presentation 2: Do we know how fish want to swim at hydropower plants?

Speaker: Jeffrey Tuhtan, Associate Professor of Environmental Sensing Technologies, Tallinn University of Technology

13:45 – 14:00: Presentation 3: Hydropower Sustainability Standard for hydropower development

Speaker: Eddie Rich, CEO, IHA

14:00 – 14:45: Open Panel Discussion with the audience,: 

• Diar Isid, Policy Officer, European Commission, DG ENV
• Olivier Tricca, Power Engineer, European Investment Bank
• Benjamin Graff, Open Innovation Manager, CNR

14:45 – 15:00: Coffee break

15:00 – 16:00: Session 3: Synergies and collaboration with ETIP’s and EERA for integrated use of renewables in view of safe electricity supply

15:00 – 15:15 Short statement of initiatives and project examples:

                • Presenting ASPIRE, the Alliance of Secure, indigenous & Predictable Renewable Electricity

Statement: Donagh Cagney, Policy Director, Ocean Europe

                • Hydropower as a catalyst and facilitator for the clean, safe and independent energy transition in Europe (HYDROPOWER EUROPE, IHA, IEA Hydropower and EERA Hydro; recommendations for the SET Plan revision)

Statement: Liv Randi Hultgreen, Executive Director, FME HydroCen – NTNU

                • Concrete actions to contribute to the revision of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan from the ETIPs’ perspective (ETIP Forum)

Statement: Maria Laura Trifiletti, Project Manager, ZABALA

                • XFLEX Hydro project: Integration of hydropower and batteries

Statement: Jean-Louis Drommi, Electricity Expert, EDF

15:15 – 16:00: Open Panel Discussion with the audience, speakers and guest panelist: Thomas Schleker, Policy Officer, European Commission, DG RTD

16:00 – 16:15: ETIP Hydropower ’Unifying the voices of hydropower in Europe’ the next steps

16:15 – 16:30: Final conclusions and outlook 


REGISTRATION : https://etip-hydropower.eu/events/hydropower-day/


Installed hydropower capacity is expected to more than double worldwide by 2050, according to a new IRENA report

"Hydropower has been an effective source of clean energy generation for more than a century," said IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera, adding, however, that "with the rapidly changing energy landscape, it is important to reassess its future role and take advantage of recent technological advances that can maximize its potential, while ensuring its sustainability and climate resilience."

View More...

Multipurpose projects for the sustainable future of hydropower

Hydropower is a renewable energy source that, due to its flexibility, it is a privileged position to be a key enabler of the energy transition in Europe. What is more, the current energy crisis added to the climate emergency, evidences the need to decarbonise, and that, can only be done through the massive deployment of renewable energies.

Globally, hydropower accounted for the 60% of all renewable electricity generation in 2020, and it still could double its capacity. In fact, that is the trend that the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) foresee by 2050.

View More...

The value of flexibility in hydropower: factsheets by IEA

Globally, hydropower accounts for 60% of all renewable electricity generation in 2020, making it the main source of renewable energy in the electricity industry. The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) expect that hydropower generation and installed capacity double by 2050.

View More...

REPORT: Hydropower and Pumped Hydropower Storage in the European Union

Hydropower is one of the oldest energy technologies that dates thousands of years ago and that lasts until today. It is the largest renewable technology with 1,360 GW of installed capacity around the world. In addition, as a flexible energy source allows the integration of other sources such as wind and solar power, ensuring grid stability. For this reason, hydropower is well-suited to play a key role in the European decarbonisation that will lead to the consecution of the renewable energy targets set by the European Commission in the Renewable Energy Directive.

View More...

Re-watch the webinar: Unifying the voices of hydropower in Europe

Last 25 January 2023, ETIP HYDROPOWER organiser an explainatory webinar attended by more than 110 participants (reaching 130) where ETIP HYDROPOWER was explained in detail. To finalise, a roundtable discussion was held where the following question was addressed: "What form of sustainable organisation representing the hydropower sector is required to ensure the vital role of hydropower in the energy transition sector?". Watch the different slots of the session by clicking on the links below:

View More...



D. 5.1 - Dissemination, Exploitation and Communication Plan - DOWNLOAD HERE