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Hydropower is derived from flowing of water that powers a turbine. It is one of the oldest sources of renewable energy, having been used already in pre-industrial times, for instance, in watermills.

As the second largest renewable electricity source, hydropower continues to be an important energy source today. According to Eurostat, it accounted in 2022 for 29.9% of the EU’s renewable electricity production and provided 12.3% of the EU’s electricity.

Besides providing a lot of renewable electricity, hydropower technology can also deliver services to Europe’s electricity system, such as flexibility and storage, which are important to maintain the stability of the electricity system and integrate an ever-growing share of variable renewable energy production, for instance from solar and wind power, into the energy system.

Environmental impact

There are several pieces of EU legislation that address the environmental impacts of hydropower, which include changes that can affect wildlife and the river morphology, causing a fragmentation of the river system. Key among them are the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and obligations for environmental impact assessments.

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