While opportunities to build new hydro power are limited, this does not necessarily mean that hydro power cannot grow as an energy source, by modernising and upgrading existing hydro power plants. Some of our R&D projects include finding effective solutions to reduce environmental impact without reducing generation capacity.Vattenfall continuously makes major investments in our existing hydro power plants to extend their operational period. R&D is conducted to support these investments and to improve operation and maintenance. Ongoing and planned activities include modernization and improvements of construction, and installation of monitoring equipment.
We manage several R&D projects that aim to increase effectiveness and safety, and to improve the environmental performance of our hydro power plants. A normal life span for hydro power plant equipment is 40 to 50 years. An important element of our R&D work is to find the best solutions when it becomes necessary to reinvest in our hydro plants.
Other R&D activities focuses on effective solutions when increasing dam safety, and in finding effective solutions to reduce environmental impact without adversely reducing generation capabilities.
Over a ten-year period, Vattenfall will be investing in modernising and upgrading 30 existing hydro power plants with an expected increase in output of 400 GWh by 2014. In Sweden alone, Vattenfall will be investing about SEK 4 billion between 2011 and 2014.
The Vattenfall Hydro power R&D program collaborates with various universities - which maintains and develops the necessary skills and competence. An important example is the Swedish Hydropower centre (SVC), which is a joint effort between power companies, universities, the Swedish Energy Authority, consultants and manufacturers.