Why the EU supports hydropower research and innovation

Hydropower is energy derived from falling or fast running water.

Hydro reservoirs provide built-in energy storage and the fast response time of hydropower allows it to meet sudden fluctuations in supply or demand of other renewable sources (for example solar and wind power).

This means that hydropower can have an increasingly important role in providing flexibility to the electricity system.

Challenges and opportunities

In a changing power system, continuous innovation is needed to keep sustainable hydropower efficient and cost-competitive, including retrofitting measures for existing plants to improve their efficiency and environmental performance.

Solutions to exploit energy production from small reservoirs or hydro plants that can generate power from small differences in the water level (not requiring massive dams to be built) are very promising.

What the EU is doing

The EU supports hydropower research by funding projects that demonstrate the potential of the technology and aim to reduce its environmental impact.

In particular, innovation will support the efficient retrofitting of existing plants and help improve the sustainability of hydropower.

Funding opportunities

  • Horizon 2020 - calls

    Calls for proposal related to energy themes in Horizon 2020. On this page you can find more information, the work programme and a link to the energy related calls.

  • Horizon 2020 - access to risk finance

    Gain easier access to debt and equity financing, such as InnovFin, managed by the European Investment Bank Group and European Investment Fund

  • Connecting Europe Facility - energy

    CEF energy funds and finances energy infrastructure projects

  • NER 300 programme

    Funding for innovative low-carbon technology research with focus on environmentally safe Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and innovative renewable energy technologies

  • LIFE+ Climate Action

    Co-financing for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation research, supporting the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy

  • European structural and investment funds (ESIF)

    Energy research related calls may be found in these funds


    EU Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME) aims to make it easier for SMEs to access finance in all phases of their lifecycle

  • Prize for renewable energy islands

    Prize rewarding achievements in local renewable energy production for electricity, heating, cooling and transport on islands.

Collaboration and jobs

Projects and results

Scientific publications, tools and databases


  • Research enquiry service

    You can contact the research enquiry service to find out more about research in Europe, the EU's research and innovation funding programmes as well as calls for proposals and project funding.  

  • National contact points

    The national contact points (NCP) network gives guidance and information on participating in Horizon 2020. NCPs are established in all EU countries and many non-EU countries.

  • Enterprise Europe Network

    The Enterprise Europe Network is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with international ambitions. 

  • European IP Helpdesk

    Service that offers an intellectual property rights helpline, training and online library.

Related Commission departments