Local renewables

Cooperatives boost small hydropower



Stütings mill located in Warstein, Germany

Martina Steinkusz, 4 Mar 13
Unrealised potential for small and micro hydropower generation exists in Europe’s thousands of historic mills, water wheel sites, weirs and other lateral structures in rivers. The RESTOR Hydro project aims to tap into these often neglected hydropower sources.

Increased public precariousness and opposition against hydropower often prevent new developments and refurbishment of old sites. The RESTOR Hydro project, coordinated by the European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA) and co-funded by the IEE programme of the European Commission, addresses this most severe barrier for the hydropower sector by involving local citizens, who are offered a share of the project with co-ownership by creating a cooperative. Hydropower will be brought closer to the people by showing them the original technology and the benefits that it brings to the region. Decentralised power generation increases the local security of the energy supply.

Such decentralisation fosters community development by providing income sources and creating jobs locally. The RESTOR Hydro project will raise awareness about micro hydropower and show that it is financially viable. It will demonstrate the attractiveness of micro hydropower as a local renewable energy investment. Along with non-hydropower associations, such as the Slovenian Network for Heritage Interpretation, the project targets eight regions. The results will be compiled into an all-inclusive replicable model for any region in the EU member states to easily put into use. As part of the RESTOR Hydro project, another key barrier for hydropower development will be tackled, that is, the complicated and long permit procedures. A model for a simplified procedure for micro hydropower will be developed and presented to the respective authorities of the eight target regions.

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