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Fishfriendly Innovative Technologies for Hydropower

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FIThydro (Fishfriendly Innovative Technologies for Hydropower)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30

The European Water Framework Directive seeks to improve the conditions of water bodies defined by chemical, physical and biological parameters to a good status, while the EU 2030 Climate and Energy Policy Framework seeks to increase the share of renewable energy sources such as hydropower. FIThydro aimed at mitigating negative effects of hydropower plants (HPP) on the environment and on fish populations, and investigated the cost-efficiency of mitigation measures. Developing innovative solutions, methods, tools and devices that may contribute to a sustainable development of hydropower is paramount, since hydropower is expected to be a strong vector in the renewable energy mix concept. Environmentally friendly and sustainable hydropower supports the development of healthy rivers and self-sustaining fish populations while supplementing and balancing other renewable energy sources. FIThydro generated state-of-the-art knowledge on the behavior and reaction of fish to hydropower threats and raised the technical readiness level of several innovations, thus securing waterbodies to be in a “good state” for future generations. It also dealt with the acceptance of hydropower by societal actors as well as specific stakeholders on key open issues related to the planning of mitigation options for hydropower structures. Finally, several decision-making tools were developed that can support stakeholders during the decision-making process on planning, commissioning and operating fishfriendly hydropower.
The sensitivity classification of European lampreys and fishes made available by FIThydro which applies beyond hydropower to different human-induced pressures, independently of particular causes of fish mortality, can support implementing conservation targets based on species’ sensitivity. European Fish Hazard Index, a screening tool for environmental risk posed by hydropower plants on fish is the first standardized, European-wide applicable screening tool for potentially hazardous hydropower installation. It can be adjusted to local species pools and conservation concerns and acts as a screening part of any decision support system. Furthermore, Cumulative Impact Assessment Guidance provides two generic approaches, based on barrier locations and impoundments, independent of species communities, can comprehensively assess the cumulative impacts of a variety of interacting effects on migratory species.

FIThydro developed and enhanced various Solutions, Methods, Tools and Devices (SMTDs) (https://www.fithydro.wiki/index.php/Solutions,_methods,_tools,_and_devices) addressing upstream and downstream migration, turbines, hydromorphology, hydropeaking, E-flows, fish characterization and habitat. The ranges of application of those SMTDs were defined and were applied in test cases which can help the operators and consultants to better choose, conceptualise and combine suitable mitigation measures.

The SMTDs will contribute to solving the problems presented to fish individuals, and ultimately to fish populations, by hydropower, enhancing the economic contributions and ecosytem services provided by riverine ecosystems. Once the improved tools and devices are commercialized, they may be used by the HPP operators, consultants and universities to address fish behaviour upstream and downstream to support decisions about the mitigations measures to be applied.

A catalogue of mitigation measures to improve conditions for fish in hydropower rivers has been made available on the FIThydro wiki. A compilation of costs of these measures and the Bayesian Network modelling was used to demonstrate a method for assessing different scenarios of mitigation measures at Test Cases that is also applicable for other hydropower plants. The method gives support in choosing cost-effective mitigation measures. FIThydro wiki, where relevant mitigation measures are documented together with Methods, tools and devices to help plan, implement and monitor mitigation measures. The wiki also contains information about all Test Cases in FIThydro as examples on challenges for hydropower and fish, and possible solutions and mitigation measures to maintain sustainable fish populations and at the same time ensure important renewable power production.

Main EU and national policies (water and nature protection policies as well energy and climate mitigation targets), and financing tools relevant to the planning and operation of hydropower were reviewed. FIThydro assessed the needs and expectations of regional and European stakeholders in terms of key problems and possible solutions for the assessment and planning of fish-friendly hydropower production. Further, research-based social science methods were used to evaluate the public perception of hydropower. The Decision Support System was developed for the planning of mitigation options in hydropower plants, which has integrated findings from various tasks of the project. Finally, A screening of market conditions relevant to the uptake of FIThydro innovative technologies, which links up to exploitation activities was carried out.

Dissemination for the various outputs of FIThydro was realized through non-scientific publications, journal and conference papers, and presentations in national and international workshops and conferences.
FIThydro contributed to a better understanding of key problems and possible solutions to the application of mitigation options for fish-friendly hydropower generation. The innovative tools and guidelines developed in FIThydro and applied on real cases can be used for a cost-effective and efficient refurbishment or relicensing process of hydropower plants by operators and other stakeholders. The European Fish Hazard Index, cumulative impact assessment and fish sesitivtiy classification will help balancing the societal needs for decarbonized energy and the societal demands for protecting aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems for further generations. Comprehensive knowledge on SMTDs in the FIThydro wiki, costs of mitigation measures and the decision support system can help in choosing cost-effective mitigation measures and in finding better-combined solutions for energy production and the environment to the benefit of the society.

The developed devices have a great potential to be commercialized, increasing the EU capacity to manufacture devices to monitor fish upstream and downstream of HPPs and strengthen the competitive advantage of the European hydropower sector.

The policy and market reviews contribute to the consideration of important regulatory and financing issues in the decision-making processes of hydropower operators and authorities and act as reference especially, for countries where this is not yet clearly regulated or where policy revisions are pending. FIThydro DSS provides a single, transparent and structured framework applicable to all regions in Europe to ensure sustainable management, planning and operation of the hydropower sector in the EU. It promotes wider ecosystem and societal benefits accruing from mitigation measures that improve water resource management measures and promote the protection of biodiversity whilst realizing opportunities for renewable energy. Additionally, it supports the integration of cost-effective mitigation measures to alleviate environmental impacts caused by hydropower, thus ensuring environmental legislation is adhered to while reaching national renewable energy targets.
HPP Altusried Test Case (source: flussbau iC Villach/Austria)
Fish passage at Test case, Günz River, Germany, (Source: TUM)
Banwill HPP Depth averaged velocity analysis (Source: ETH Zurich
HPP Test case at the Iller river (source: flussbau iC Villach/Austria)