Uniting European hydropower

27 October 2010



Hydropower is the most important renewable resource for energy production in Southeast European countries. However competition between water users is becoming a serious problem. The South East Europe (SEE) Hydropower project has been developed to find a way forward for all water users and balance energy demands with environmental and flooding considerations


The South East Europe (SEE) Hydropower project is based on the European Directive on the Promotion of Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources (RES-e). The three-year project started in June 2009 and is financed by the South-East Transnational Cooperation Programme of the European Union.

The project has a strong focus on the integration between the Water Framework Directive and the RES-e Directives in the countries involved. Its objectives include the promotion of hydro production in SEE countries in order to:

• Optimise water resource exploitation in a way which is compatible with other water users.

• Preserve environmental quality.

• Take into account the environmental sustainability of natural resources.

• Cope with climate change.

• Prevent the risk of flooding.

SEE Hydropower defines specific needs and test methodologies and tools, in order to help public bodies make decisions about the planning and management of water and hydropower concessions, considering all multi-purpose use. Methodologies and tools will be tested in the following pilot regions: Piave basin (Italy); Mur basin (Austria); Ialomita - Prut basin (Romania); Serres region (Greece); and Drava basin (Slovenia).

Competition between water users (for drinking, irrigation, industrial processes, power generation, etc.) is becoming a serious problem, and there is a strong need for more accurate planning and management to optimise resources. Investigations are being carried out to define common strategies and methods for preserving rivers with particular consideration being given to aquatic ecosystems, considering the required environmental flow, macro-habitat quality, migratory fish and related environmental issues. Other problems addressed by the project include the contrast between public administration and environmental associations on the one side and hydropower producers on the other.

The organisations involved in the project are a well balanced mix of public administrations, agencies ruling hydropower development and water conservation, plus scientific institutions having the most advanced technology applied to water management and hydropower generation.

Software tools

Various software tools are going to be customised and applied in the pilot areas under the auspices of SEE Hydropower.

HaltFlood is a tool to support the operation of hydropower reservoirs for flood attenuation. It is capable of estimating flood hydrographs entering the reservoir and propagating downstream from the dam. It has mathematical modules relevant to the most important data and processes such as meteorological conditions and runoff estimates at the watershed scale.

The main modules included in the HaltFlood software are: Physically based hydrological rainfall-runoff model, lumped over many sub-basins; Reservoir flood operation model; and Flood routing model based on the Muskingum method.

Multi-criteria analysis: Decision support systems are helpful to decision makers faced with conflicting interests, when it is not possible to identify, from a technical point of view, which is the best alternative to choose. In this case, the best thing to do is give stakeholders all the information necessary to take the decision, helping them to reduce the dimensions of the problem and making evident the presence of conflicts that have to be managed.

The multi-criteria analysis (MCA) appeared in the 1960s as a decision-making tool. It is used to make a comparative assessment of alternatives, on the basis of some evaluation criteria. The validity of the results is strongly linked to the choice of the criteria that need to be defined carefully, taking into account all the factors that could affect the problem that is going to be analysed.

The method is designed to help decision-makers integrate the different options, reflecting the opinions of the actors concern. Participation of the decision-makers in the process is a central part of the approach. The results are usually directed at providing operational advice or recommendations for future activities. Applications of the MCA to water resource management and the optimisation of existing and future water use conflict will be carried out in the context of the SEE Hydropower project.

VAPIDRO ASTE is a GIS integrated tool to calculate hydropower potential and identify promising small hydro plant sites, through the evaluation and management optimisation of water availability, considering geodetic head in the territory (at a regional and basin scale).

The tool takes into account the exploitation of existing water resources with their geographical location and elevations, and the limitation that this creates regarding potential energy patterns. The software is based on topographic information (digital elevation model) and isohyets maps, with a whole analysis of the catchment, together with a regional evaluation of available discharges along the river system.

Based upon a user friendly graphical interface, the tool is able to split the river into hundreds of cross-sections, calculate the available discharges and potential hydropower production, considering constraints like minimum flow, withdrawals and restitutions scheme. To perform the optimisation, VAPIDRO ASTE makes an economical and financial analysis of small hydro plants (including green certificates and eventual governmental subsidies).

SMART Mini Idro is an EXCEL tool to evaluate the main hydropower project parameters of a given hydropower project, considering the flow duration curve, the available heads, the types of turbines to be installed and the range of discharges to be used. The tool considers the possibility of applying government incentives to the investment as green certificates and finally is able to evaluate the cash-flow of the investment. The tool helps the user as an initial approach to begin a preliminary project, leading to a first analysis of the economical and financial parameters of a new small hydro plant.

Expected results

The main outputs and results from the SEE Hydropower project will be in the form of reports published on the website. These will include:

• Reliable multi-criteria methodology to support water planning and management for hydropower production.

• Tested dynamic reservoir management to improve power production and mitigate flood risk.

• Guidelines of best practices to preserve river ecosystems, with special concern given to environmental flow, macro-habitat and migratory fish.

• Methods and strategies (GIS database, site public cadastre, software) to improve eco-hydropower production by means of SHP.

• Communication among SEE countries concerning hydropower production, contributing to the implementation and integration between Water Framework Directive and RES-e Directives.

Furthermore, a series of seminars addressed to stakeholders, at least one per partner country, and a final transnational seminar, are part of the agenda of the project.

Maximo Peviani, Julio Alterach, Andrea Danelli, ERSE SpA., e-mail: [email protected]

Gerald Zenz, Gabriele Harb, Graz Univerity of Technology. Email: [email protected]



SEE Hydropower organisations

Public administrations and agencies:
"¢ ARPA Veneto (Italy)
"¢ Province of Belluno (Italy)
"¢ Government of Styria (Austria)
"¢ Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning (Slovenia)
"¢ National Water Administration APELE ROMANE (Romania)
"¢ Prefecture of Serres Province (Greece)
"¢ Prefecture of Arta Province (Greece)
Scientific and research institutions:
"¢ ERSE SpA (Italy)
"¢ Graz University of Technology (Austria)
"¢ University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
"¢ University Politehnical of Bucharest (Romania)
"¢ Technical University of Moldova (Rep. of Moldova)
Observing partners:
"¢ Verbund - Austrian Hydro Power (Austria)
"¢ ELEM - Macedonian Power Plants (Rep. of Macedonia)
"¢ ESHA - European Small Hydropower Association (EU)
"¢ ASSOELE - National Association of Electric Utilities (Italy)
"¢ ENERGAP - Energy agency of Podravje (Slovenia)
"¢ APER - Association of Renewable Energy Producers (Italy)
"¢ UNESCO-IHE - Institute for Water Education (The Netherlands)
"¢ REGIONE DEL VENETO - Soil Defence Department (Italy)



Mur basin Mur basin
HaltFlood HaltFlood


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