Unrealized potential for economically feasible and environmentally sustainable small and micro hydropower (SHP) generation exists in the thousands of historic water wheel, mill and weir sites in the EU. This project will identify the most relevant sites suitable for refurbishment and develop a market driven model for regional cooperatives with a community shares ownership business plan with profit from the sites available for further development of the area.
The project enables the creation of local energy sources increasing regional energy supply security, gives a boost to the local economy, provides income sources and creates jobs. Repowering abandoned sites increases distributed steady energy production, strengthens the grid and improves environmental conditions resulting in win-win outcomes and contributes to the growth rates of hydropower in the EU.
The project will collect data covering EU-27 (by ESHA, its members and the 8 project partners) measuring the state of hydropower and refurbishment potential. It will produce a standardized permitting, financing and implementation guide. The eight selected partner regions (Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden) will implement restoration programs using Structural Funds, local investment and conventional financing. This will reduce the amount of unused SF for renewables, increase local investment and provide bankable projects. The outcome of this project will be an all-inclusive replicable model consisting of financial, regulatory and technological recommendations.
A multi-modal and targeted communication program will be used to increase awareness and social acceptance of SHP with local, national and EU decision makers, the general public, site owners, investors and other market players (i.e. banks, grid operators, historical and environmental interest groups). A grassroots campaign to increase social acceptance of friendly small hydropower is identified as critical to the sector.
NettoWatt will support Esha in the coordination role and will also be responsible to deliver :
- the Cooperative Model
- the set-up and maintenance of the European Database to map micro-hydro potential across Europe, and the methodology to populate it
- part of the European communication program (mainly web presence)
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