A directive of the European Union may make even higher demands and also oblige Norway to ensure by the end of 2021 that all waters - especially from an ecological point of view - are in good condition.
In order to meet all requirements, Hydro Energy has reviewed the company's biodiversity management and prepared a plan to meet its environmental goals in the future.
With power plants in Røldal / Suldal, the eastern part of the Telemark district and the Indre Sogn region, as well as in Otra in southern Norway and investment facilities in the heart of Telemark, all water sources and storage facilities are located either in or near national parks and nature reserves.
In accordance with the concession conditions, Hydro Energy stands for operation of the power plants, which & nbsp; ensures that the water level is correct and that the required amount of water is available in the rivers. In addition, more than 85,000 fish seedlings, both salmon and trout, are released by Hydro in the rivers, lakes and fjords every year - in Sogn, the juveniles even come from breeding facilities that Hydro operates itself.
Since 2009, the European Water Framework Directive has been part of the EEA Treaty with the call for the good condition of waters through holistic and sustainable management of water resources. Hydro has been working with the current actors and authorities ever since to acquire the necessary knowledge and to draw up action plans so that the required environmental goals can be met and water quality can be prevented.
“Regulatory and environmental requirements are often viewed as a hindrance by companies. But good administration and more knowledge of the ecology of the water can also lead to better decisions that are also useful for us as electricity producers, ”says Hilde Vestheim Nordh, head of the HSE and CSR department in the Hydro Energy business area.
She points out that it is unclear what consequences the water directive and new action plans can have for the energy industry. & nbsp; Some fear that the specification of new minimum quantities in the rivers and restrictions on the adjustment of the level in the water reservoirs could lead to a reduction in electricity generation in Norway by five to ten TWh per year. On the other hand, research from the Fortun River shows that maintaining current regulation is beneficial for salmon in the river. "The experience gained here indicates that an increasing water level in the river would worsen rather than improve the conditions for the salmon," reports Nordh.
To counteract the negative effects of a greatly reduced water flow below inlets and dams, Hydro has implemented measures for so-called & nbsp; Biotope adjustments carried out in several rivers. This is done to protect the living creatures in the water and is intended to enable the formation of pools even after the expansion of power plants. Last year & nbsp; Hydro has completed the construction of several small weirs in the Måna River through the Rjukan Community Center.
Roads for construction vehicles in the mountains are often made accessible to the general public after the expansion of power plants, provided there are no restrictions on car traffic or & nbsp; Snow clearing vehicles exist that out of respect for the animal world, e.g. Reindeer herds were introduced. Existing landfills with rock masses from tunnel construction are registered and monitored. If necessary, they are removed or planted, & nbsp; to ensure a good environmental standard. & nbsp; On the other hand, some landfills must be preserved because they are protected as a cultural heritage.
Hydro does not expect dramatic changes in the company's water requirements. "Hydro is in a special situation compared to other power generators because we, as a private player, only have concessions that are limited in time," says Hilde Nordh. It exemplifies the concessions for Tyin and Fortun / Granfaste.
The license for Tyin from 2001 is so new that no changes can be expected for the time being. It already contains requirements for a minimum amount of water, and Hydro has been documenting the conditions for fish stocks in the river for 10 years. For Fortun / Granfaste, work has started on a new license application for the period after 2017. Thanks to the introduction and maintenance of measures for salmon in the river, it is probably not necessary to raise the water level.
No major changes are expected in Røldal / Suldal either, but better conditions for fish in the smaller tributaries to Lake Suldalsvatn may be required. This may include creating better fish habitats, but it will not affect water levels. The Møsvatn concession expired in 2003 in the Telemark district. An application for a renewed license was made in 2002, but has not yet been decided. & Nbsp; All circumstances have been investigated and the Norwegian Water and Energy Agency NVE is known to have closed. In this case, the water framework directive is irrelevant for the decision of the authorities.