In order to reach the targets of the EU Directive on renewable energy, hydropower plays an important role, with high expectations on the utilisation also for balancing wind power. However, water is a resource with many interested stakeholders and environmental impacts of hydropower, especially under short-term regulation regimes, may be substantial. Ecological impacts may occur which conflict with designated habitats and species protected by the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. Further, the EU Water Framework Directive advocates an integrated water management approach, with the overarching goal of achieving good ecological status for all European water bodies by 2015, with some exceptions. Also other EU legislation such as the Directives on environmental impact assessment of plans and programmes as well as on projects calls for a holistic and systematic approach for assessing environmental impacts, for integrating stakeholders and for finding a balance between different types of resource use, in this case water use. Therefore, there is a need for methods and tools for integrated sustainability assessment of hydropower options, from large to small scale plants and as a regulating source. Such tools are needed for integration of sometimes contradicting economic and environmental objectives and stakeholder perspectivces in the decision-making process, for assessment of environmental impacts and for design of flow regimes meeting combined energy and ecological demands. Apart from forecasting and predicting the quantity and quality of water, different models can help in predicting the impacts of natural and anthropogenic changes on water resources, quantifying the spatial and temporal availability of the resources and help integrate and design environmental flows. However, main challenges lie in choosing and utilizing these models for a specific basin and managerial plan. The project aims at investigating such methods and tools, applying a selection of these in case studies for comparing their capacity for use in environmental impact assessment and for analysing and assessing interacting energy-environment systems. The results will include a methodlogical framework and a model comparison, setting a baseline for further studies of integrated sustainability assessment of hydropower options.
The project is part of the StandUp for Energy collaboration between Uppsala University, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Luleå University of Technology