Researchers at the University of Hull’s International Fisheries Institute have supported a European study into the impact of hydroelectric power plants on fish populations.
The University team, comprising of Prof. Ian Cowx and Dr Richard Noble, worked with experts across the continent to develop new methods and technologies to assess and mitigate how hydropower is impacting our environment.
Hydropower is one of the most important and widely used renewable energy sources. Arguably its main advantage is it is far less weather-dependent than wind or solar power.
However, hydropower plants involve major interventions with the natural world, such as the damming of rivers, altering aquatic habitats, and impacting fish mortality through turbines, spillways or screens.
The project, titled FIThydro, developed new solutions, assessment methods and technologies such as a fish population hazard index, simulations for fish migration and an open-access decision support tool for hydropower planning.
Dr Richard Noble said “The new FIThydro decision support tool not only provides a much-needed integrated and transferable project scoping tool.
“It also provides decision-makers a gateway to the new knowledge generated by the FIThydro project, enabling improved protection for fish and greener hydropower production.”
In the four-year EU project FIThydro (Fishfriendly Innovation Technologies for Hydropower), 26 European research institutions and companies studied the effects of hydropower plants on ecosystems - in particular fish - at 17 test sites in eight countries.
At each of the test sites, the team initially studied existing methods and technologies used to assess the impact and mitigation measures at hydropower plants.
The second part of the project explored possible measures to retrofit hydropower plants – as well as new decision-making tools for hydropower operators and planners.