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Renewable Energy Sources Transforming Our Regions - Hydro (RESTOR HYDRO)

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Unrealised potential for economically feasible and environmentally sustainable small and micro hydropower generation exists in the thousands of historic water wheels, mills and weir sites in the EU. This project identified the most relevant sites suitable for refurbishment and developed a market driven model for regional cooperatives with a community shares ownership business plan with profit from the sites available for further development of the area. The project enabled the creation of local energy sources increasing regional energy supply security, giving a boost to the local economy, providing income sources and creating jobs. Repowering abandoned sites increases distributed steady energy production, strengthens the grid and improves environmental conditions resulting in win-win outcomes that also contribute to the growth rates of hydropower in the EU. The project collected data covering EU-27 measuring the state of hydropower and refurbishment potential. It produced a standardised permitting, financing and implementation guide. The eight partner regions implemented restoration programs using Structural Funds, local investment and conventional financing.


  • A database for identification of the overall aggregate benefit that can be derived from restoration of historic hydropower sites in the EU-27, along with methodology guidelines for identification and refurbishment to provide renewable energy, environmental, economic and social benefits; a documented and replicable business model combining three critical elements:
    • Local investment via a community shares based cooperative,
    • Twinning with Structural Funds,
    • Providing projects that are large enough to be bankable by financial institutions;
  • Active restoration programs in 8 EU target countries proving the applicability of the business model in all EU member states.
This project increased social acceptance through local community ownership while highlighting the preservation of aesthetic and historical elements and improving environmental quality. It influenced the removal of non-technological barriers by reducing complexity and simplifying regulatory and administrative procedures and recommending improvements for micro hydropower.

Lessons learned

  • Direct stakeholder communication is the most successful approach for such a targeted audience.
  • The public as well as the politicians and administrative interest for, and opinions of, small and micro hydro and cooperatives differs largely from country to country.

Partners and coordinator

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Swedish Hydropower Association
Contact point: 
Gunvor Axelsson


In brief

06/06/2012 to 05/06/2015
Contract number: 

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