Department Surface Waters - Research and Management

Effects of hydropower on surface waters


Hydropower is the most important energy source for electricity production in Switzerland. We assess the impacts of this hydropower production on the physical properties, such as temperature, stratification, or particle concentrations, of downstream rivers and lakes.
Following the Energy Strategy 2050 of the Swiss government, its importance is expected to increase further in the future due to the phasing out of nuclear power production. Within the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research - Supply of Electricity SCCER-SoE we investigate the impacts of the changes in hydropower production due to the Energy Strategy on riverine ecosystems and develop methods to reduce these impacts
Furthermore, lakes and reservoirs are increasingly used for storing electricity using pumped-storage hydropower plants. We are investigating the effects of such pumped-storage operations on the temperature and stratification in the affected lakes and reservoirs.

Key publications

Bonalumi, M.; Anselmetti, F. S.; Wüest, A.; Schmid, M. (2012) Modeling of temperature and turbidity in a natural lake and a reservoir connected by pumped-storage operations, Water Resources Research, 48(8), 1-19, doi:10.1029/2012WR011844, Institutional Repository
Finger, D.; Schmid, M.; Wüest, A. (2007) Comparing effects of oligotrophication and upstream hydropower dams on plankton and productivity in perialpine lakes, Water Resources Research, 43(12), 1-18, doi:10.1029/2007WR005868, Institutional Repository