Hydropower contributes a little more than half the electricity produced Switzerland with a share of 56% of the overall energy supply. In turn half of the available energy can be stored in reservoirs and called upon when needed. Energy Strategy 2050 makes provision for a 5-8% increase in generation from hydropower. At the same time the effects of climate change, increased requirements for water protection and the European electricity market impact the domestic hydropower in many ways. Additionally, concessions for existing hydropower plants will have to be renewed in the coming decades. As a result of this situation there are many problems which have to be studied for which solutions will have to be found to be able to use hydropower sustainably and economically in the future.

Current research priorities

Large-scale hydropower

  • Building technology: stresses resulting from rapid, frequent load changes and/or effects of climate change; debris diversion tunnels;
  • Components and operation: change of operational mode within the European grid system; pump turbines subject to frequent change of operational mode; sediment management of reservoirs;
  • Viability and potential: changes in production as a consequence of climate change; modifications to the operating mode of pumped storage power stations because of climate change and European markets; uncertainties for planning with respect to hydrology, energy prices, etc.; optimisation of modernisation potential;
  • Ecology: conflicts between hydropower and water ecology/conservation of the countryside; residual water flow arrangements; hydro-peaking; fish migration.

Small-scale hydropower

  • Open low-pressure machines, underwater plant, open-air plant, systems with minimum civil-engineering disruption; optimised turbine concepts: methods for closed systems (drinking-water and industrial plant), improved ultra-low-pressure plant, efficiency; maintenance; effect of climate change; economic viability, optimisation of operation mode, storage potential; ecological use.

Specialist staff
Last modification 20.10.2017

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Head of Programme

Klaus Jorde

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