France Hydro Électricité is the major association of small hydro producers and stakeholders. Its philosophy is “do more, do better, do together”; the association promotes small hydro development and preservation of existing plants.
Guide 2011 « Towards the hydroelectric plant of the 21th century - A guide for the development of small hydroelectric plants with due respect to the natural environment” (in English)
The Commitment agreement signed in June 2010, which was developed within the framework of the National environment round table (so called “Grenelle environment process”), forms a shared joint platform for hydropower companies, associations and environmental protection NGOs and elected representatives, d-monstrating their involvement and their commitment to implementing the conclusions of the Grenelle Environment Process and their willingness to pursue the development of hydropower in combination with strin-gent environmental requirements contributing to the restoration of aquatic environments.
Make more by making better, it’s the deal proposed by this agreement. It is a frame to reconcile the construction of new plants, the equipment or the optimization of existing plants while reducing globally the impact of this activity on the aquatic environments.
While it was initially compiled for use in France within a specific regulatory context, it is an example of best practices common to State/local government authorities and private hydroelectricity producers. The goal is to facilitate the assessment of development permit applications, to share a common approach and vocabulary for the development of small hydroelectric projects with due respect to the environment. This guide brings essential aspects for the drafting of development projects from this double perspective to the attention of the key players in the hydroelectric sector. It highlights the elaboration of essential aspects for the study of the impact of projects on the water habitat which will be affected. This is a crucial phase, albeit often repeated, for the successful achievement of a project. Quality of input on this phase will have considerable impact on the speed and fluidity of the decision-taking phase.
The guide emphasises the necessity of establishing a dialogue with the local government authority right at the start of the project evaluation process, as this must be based on careful consideration of the balance between the drive to generate energy and the protection of the natural habitats.
Eels and dams : Results of the French R&D program
The Council of the European Union has edicted on the 18th of September 2007 a regulation that establishes a framework for the protection and sustainable use of the stock of European eel of the species Anguilla anguilla in Community waters. The objective of each Eel Management Plan shall be to reduce anthropogenic mortalities so as to permit with high probability the escapement to the sea of at least 40 % of the silver eel biomass relative to the best estimate of escapement that would have existed if no anthropogenic influences had impacted the stock.
According to this regulation, French ministry of the environment published in 2009 an eel management plan, mentioning an ambitious R&D program on eels and dams, to know more about the eel migration (upstream and downstream), develop a diagnosis method to evaluate mortality due to the hydropower dams, and find technical solutions to decrease the mortality.
A conference took place on the 29th of November 20 in Paris 11 to share conclusions of the R&D program with the different stakeholders. Unfortunately, no technical solution appeared to be easy and not expensive : if it is proved by a proper diagnosis that mortality is really high on a small plant, the only solution are thin trashrack, fish-friendly turbine, or turbine stop during the downstream migration at night.
Residual hydropower in France
French electricity association Union Française de l’Electricité (UFE) in association with France Hydro Electricité carried out a map of residual sites for hydro development. A potential of 10.6 TWh was set up. It is equivalent of Rhin or Rhône large French stream hydro generation. It can supply 4 million inhabitants in electricity
World energy issues are evolving fast. Renewables become the heart of member states policies. Hydro is essential to achieve renewable targets. But good ecological status of rivers has to be restored. Conflict between rivers protection and hydro development is raising. Developing hydro cannot any longer be based only on individual initiative. State must support hydro development by determining favourable areas. Partnership with all stakeholders is a condition of success.
First step was a computerising of the relief by geographic information system crossed with hydro data bases. Then experts analysed the results thanks to their precise knowledge of French rivers.
All hydro sites are precisely located.
However technical feasibility of each one is not analysed as the opportunity of creating a reservoir for hydro peaking. Moreover UFE French hydro potential does not include improvements on existing hydro plants as it does not calculate energy losses due to WFD implementation.
Most of the hydro potential is in green field new schemes. Around 500 sites from 300kW to 50MW could generate 9.5 TWh. Existing small weirs can be equipped generating 1.1 TWh and be an opportunity to enhance ecological continuity. Alpes, Massif Central and Pyrenees are the main location.
French government is carrying out pre-planning mechanism. On one side government classifies the rivers in order to determine absolute protected rivers for very good status water bodies or great migration species or “biodiversity reservoirs”. On the other side Regions are designing renewable potentials.
UFE French hydro potential has been adressed to government. The target is to prevent conflict between these two mechanisms and to ensure future generation have the choice concerning energy sources by preserving hydro potential.
This agreement, which was developed within the framework of the National environment round table (so called “Grenelle environment process” 1), aims to set out the mutual commitments from the Ministry for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea (MEEDDM) and its public agencies (notably ONEMA, the National Office for Water and Aquatic Environments), associations of local elected representatives most closely involved in hydropower, (ANEM, National Association for Elected Representatives in Mountain Areas) and AMF, Association of French Mayors), associations representing French hydropower (UFE, France Hydro Electricité, EAF, SER), the main French hydropower producers (EDF, GDF-Suez, CNR), NGO’s (the WWF, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, SOS Loire Vivante ERN France, ANPER-TOS National Association for the Protection of Water and Rivers, UICN France, NASF), the National Committee for Professional Freshwater Fishing, and the Renewable Energies Liaison Committee (CLER).