Hydro power

Hydro power plays an important role both in Vattenfall's production and in the European energy system.

Over the next 20 years, all Swedish hydropower production will be environmentally tested and equipped to meet modern environmental conditions. Prior to the review, a lot of the initiatives we've been working on to reduce the negative effects of hydropower on ecosystems and biodiversity will be of great importance, while at the same time we will be able to minimise the impact on electricity generation. Flexible hydro power is key in an energy system with more and more wind and solar power. Vattenfall has century-long roots in hydro power and continues to hold a leading position in Sweden's hydro power development. We are committed to hydro power and open to growth options in Europe.

Vattenfall has developed a climate-smart hydrocarbon concrete with less cement content that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 25 percent. The new concrete is currently being used in the construction of a completely new dam at Lilla Edet on the Göta River.

Our hydro power operations

We own and operate some 100 hydro power plants, most of which are located in Sweden with some in Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. Hydro power accounts for a large proportion of Vattenfall's total electricity generation and is a significant renewable energy source both in terms of Vattenfall's production and the European energy system.

Interconnectors are vital for the energy transition

Interconnecting Nordic hydro power with neighbouring systems, such as wind and solar, will offer flexible cross-border capacity, provide security of supply, improve market stability and enable the renewable agenda. Importantly, it is an excellent solution for coping with higher volumes of intermittent renewable generation in both Germany and the UK. In times of low renewable production on the continent and in the UK, Nordic hydro production can be exported and thereby reduce dependence on flexible fossil fuels in these markets. In times of excess generation by continental and UK renewables, the flow can be reversed using their production in the Nordic market to remedy overcapacity situations.

Hydro – a balancing power

Hydro power plants can be used both to generate baseload power (the amount of electricity that is always needed) and as balancing power (electricity output that can quickly be turned on to meet variations in demand).

A problem with electricity is that it cannot be stored to any great extent. Water, on the other hand, can be. Water reservoirs next to hydro power plants function as large "batteries". Energy can be stored during the times of the year when water inflow is high and electricity demand is low, and the energy can then be used when the demand is the greatest.

Flexible hydro power can offer its huge reservoirs with stored water as a giant “green” battery to the Nordic region as well as internationally. Nordic hydro reservoirs hold 50% of the total hydro storage volume in Europe, delivering unique flexibility through all required timescales – from seconds to months – and furthermore provides grid stability services in the Nordic region.

Our power plants

Find out more about Vattenfall’s power plants and facts about how much electricity we are producing.

Hydro power and the environment

Hydroelectric power produces virtually no emissions that have an impact on the climate or the environment throughout its production phase. However, there are emissions related to the building and maintaining of power plants. In order to keep track of these, Vattenfall has carried out Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for more than 20 years. These LCAs have been refined over the years and we can now offer our customers a more detailed analysis of our environmental impact in the form of an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD).

We are undertaking a great number of initiatives to reduce the negative effects of hydro power on ecosystems and biodiversity, with the aim of maximising ecological benefit while minimising the impact on electricity production. Among the activities are research studies of downstream migration of fish at our research facility in Älvkarleby in Sweden, measures to improve migration of salmon and sea trout at Stornorrfors hydro power station, and development of new ways to attract fish to the fish passages, ensuring efficient pathways.

Environmental Product Declaration

We carry out an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) to assess the impact of projects.

News and press releases

Dancing foam rods guide fish to safety

Persuading fish to find their way past hydro power plants successfully has presented a challenge for a long time. Vattenfall and Cellufy are now working together to trial a solution that inv...

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Drones make it safer and more efficient

The development of drones has made great strides. In Sweden, a complete hydro power station is being mapped to construct a perfect digital copy.

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Wendefurth pumped hydro power plant in Germany

Pumped hydro storage: the Swiss Army knife of the energy industry

Pumped hydroelectric power stations offer the ability to store electrical energy easily, efficiently, and in large quantities. The technique is currently seeing a resurgence in popularity.

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Future hydro operations

New hydro power plants are unlikely to be built in Sweden, but the capacity of existing units can be increased. With strengthened flexibility, investments in new technology and targeted environmental measures, Vattenfall’s hydro power plants maintain their role as a cornerstone of a Nordic and European energy system that features increasing amounts of renewable energy. As one of Europe's largest operators, Vattenfall has a clear competitive advantage.

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