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Research Report / Electricity

Regimes for Granting Rights to Use Hydropower in Europe

Author(s): GLACHANT Jean-Michel, RIOUS Vincent, SAGUAN Marcelo, DOUGUET Sébastien, GENTZOGLANIS Emmanuella

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Over the last decade, the European Commission has launched several procedures concerning the compatibility of hydropower right granting with European laws and regulations in several countries (e.g. France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc.). Meanwhile, other hydropower regimes (e.g. in Austria or Sweden) are not subject of such investigations despite not being grounded on competitive process. This difference of treatment raises questions about the drivers of the European Commission actions. Understanding and grabbing the main differences between the national hydropower regimes is then of particular interest.

This report aims at providing a benchmarking of hydropower concession regimes in Europe, describing hydropower regimes in 10 European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Great-Britain, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) and regions when appropriate (e.g. cantons in Switzerland or Lands/States in Germany).

This report describes and scrutinizes hydropower regimes through a unified analysis framework to ensure their comparison on an equal basis.

This framework is structured around 4 blocks:

  1. The institutional framework of hydropower regimes (e.g. type of rights to use hydropower, authorities granting rights to use hydropower, etc.)
  2. The framework for granting right to use hydropower (duration of rights and procedure, competitive process and existence of a possible EC infringement procedure).
  3. The obligations of the hydropower operator (environmental and investment obligations and royalties).
  4. Small hydro characterisation and support schemes.


Download the related policy brief | Watch the webinar by Vincent Rious