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SEI report

Sweden’s Evolving Hydropower Sector: Renovation, Restoration and Concession Change

This report reviews how the Swedish hydropower sector evolved between 1990 and 2012. It focuses specifically on the measures taken to restore rivers affected by hydropower production, as well as on the process for renovating and repowering existing large-scale hydropower stations. The report makes its core focus changes to existing hydropower installations. The type, extent and speed of these changes are central to understanding whether and how EU and national goals on the environment and energy are being implemented in Sweden, both at individual hydropower stations and in the sector more generally.

Peter M. Rudberg / Published on 23 April 2013

Rudberg, P.M. (2013). Sweden’s Evolving Hydropower Sector: Renovation, Restoration and Concession Change. SEI Project Report: Stockholm, Sweden.

The report finds that the increase in hydropower energy produced as a result of the renovation of 39 hydropower stations in the past nine years is roughly 24 times larger than the reduction in production as a result of hydropower concession reviews in the period 1990–2010. In addition, the results presented in this report on the extensive renovation of six large-scale (>10 MW) hydropower stations support theoretical extrapolations that show the potential for an increase in production of 3000 GWh/year in the coming years from the renovation and refurbishment of existing large-scale hydropower stations in Sweden. The results presented demonstrate that, thanks to the extensive ongoing renovation of existing large-scale hydropower stations, there is scope for significant implementation of river restoration measures in Sweden without incurring an overall loss in production or the balancing capacity of Swedish hydropower production.

The report examines three processes of change in hydropower concessions: two concession modification hearings and one concession review hearing. One of the key issues in the examined concession modification hearings is the question of setting legal precedents on the appropriate scope of examination in a modification hearing. In the examined concession review hearing the key issue was how the costs of mitigation measures should be shared between the actors. The findings on the three concession change processes are discussed in the light of the government’s stated goals on hydropower production and concession change. The report’s general policy recommendation is the creation of a common compulsory fund for all hydropower producers. This fund would be used to finance the river restoration measures arising from individual concession review hearings. It is argued that such a change would lead to improved implementation and increased coherence of outcomes in the Swedish system for regulating hydropower concession changes, and increase the efficiency of the process itself.

Download the project report (PDF: 3.22MB)

SEI author

headshot photo Peter M. Rudberg
Peter M. Rudberg

SEI Affiliated Researcher

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