In 2014 various stakeholder groups brought to the public discourse the following topics important for hydropower production:
For a long time, recreational fishermen in Finland and Sweden have called for hydropower producers to take actions to restore migratory fish populations in developed water systems. In particular, the construction of fishways and the removal of small hydropower plants and weirs that have low profitability have been a focal point of debate.
In November Finland’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and the Minister of the Environment invited hydropower producers and representatives of energy sector interest groups to discuss ways to restore naturally spawning migratory fish populations in developed water systems. The discussion concluded that the best outcome would be achieved if the projects are implemented through the collaborative efforts of multiple players.
For Fortum, improving the habitats for migrating fish and strengthening the natural fish populations is an important goal. We think that the most effective means to achieving the goal depend on the water system. We have participated in projects that have studied the prerequisites to building fishways for our power plants. We have also allocated significant additional funding to carry out the Oulujoki river migratory fish project in 2015–2017.
In Sweden, the hydropower debate is related to
implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive and to hydropower’s environmental measures. An administrator’s proposal on amending environmental legislation regarding the use of waters was published in June 2014; the amendment is proposed in order to achieve the environmental targets of Sweden and the EU. The key proposal in the report was that old hydropower plants should have to apply for new environmental permits. A condition of receiving the permits would be the implementation of environmental measures.
In a statement we issued about the report, we emphasised that the environment can be improved also on the basis of current legislation. We think the proposal for permit processes causes uncertainty for the future of hydropower and, in the worst case, major expenses with no corresponding environmental benefits.
In July 2014 the Swedish Energy Agency and the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management published a
national Strategy for Workarounds in Hydropower. According to the strategy, environmental measures should not reduce hydropower production by more than 2.3% on a national level. Nor should the measures significantly decrease the regulating capacity, i.e. the possibility to regulate the amount of hydropower production in accordance with electricity demand.