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Why a wetter Europe doesn’t necessarily mean more hydropower

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Euronews or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Europe experienced a wetter-than-average year in 2023, raising questions about the impact on hydropower
• The increase in precipitation, linked to climate change, led to fuller rivers and higher potential for run-of-river hydropower generation in some areas
• However, extreme weather conditions pose challenges for hydropower infrastructure

🔭 The context: Climate scientists predict that Europe will continue to see increased precipitation in northern regions during winters and decreased rainfall in Mediterranean summers
• This variability affects hydropower generation, as both droughts and floods can disrupt operations
• Modernizing hydropower plants and investing in pumped storage hydropower (PSH) are seen as crucial steps

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Hydropower is a key renewable energy source, but its sustainability is challenged by climate extremes
• Efficiently managing water resources and adapting infrastructure can enhance climate resilience
• The environmental impact of new dams and the need for sustainable practices in hydropower development remain significant concerns

⏭️ What's next: Europe's hydropower sector needs to invest in technologies like digitalization, improved forecasting, and hybrid systems to adapt to climate variability
• Enhancing water storage capabilities and modernizing plants will be essential to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events
• The future focus will likely be on developing more PSH facilities to support a flexible and resilient energy grid

💬 One quote: “In regions and seasons where river flow increases moderately, then there would be increased hydropower generation potential.” - Shaun Harrigan, Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) scientist

📈 One stat: Europe’s hydropower plants generated 637.23 terawatt hours (TWh) of renewable energy in 2023, enough to power approximately 163.4 million households

Click for more news covering the latest on hydropower


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