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Hydropower research programme

Welcome to the Hydropower research programme of the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)

Small-scale hydropower Rhein-Reichenau

Hydroelectric power has been utilised in Switzerland for centuries, and today it accounts for approximately 56 percent of the country's electricity production.This means that it is the most important domestic source of renewable energy. The available technical potentials in Switzerland have been largely exhausted, but there are still a few projects concerning the construction of new hydropower plants or the expansion of existing ones. Nonetheless, there is still a need for more research. For example, hydropower needs to be adjusted to the changing climate conditions, which are significantly influencing rainfall levels and flow patterns. The aim is therefore not only to achieve a potential increase in electricity production from hydropower, but also to maintain the current level of production under the changed background conditions. In addition, the liberalisation of electricity markets is giving rise to new activities and opportunities for the hydropower industry. In particular, pump storage power plants could be used to an increased extent for the storage of non-regulatable renewable energy. The associated methods of operation also give rise to changed physical loads on electromechanical components, as well as different influence son water ecosystems. With respect to the control and regulation of power plants, transmission and distribution networks, new questions are arising which will have to be closely examined.
In the area of small hydropower plants there are still many unused (or not yet used) locations. Research and development activities are to study ways in which this potential can be exploited in an envirornmentally compatible and econpomically viable manner.

Related documents

Reports on Hydropower research programme
Concept on Hydropower research programme
Federal government energy research concept
Application for financial support (research & development)

Further information

Energy research at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy
Contact: Klaus Jorde
Last update: 26.09.2012

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