Balancing environmental benefits and damages of small hydropower generation in policy making: Assessing the implementation of a contradicting EU policy framework in Austria and Slovenia
International Journal of Sustainable Energy 38(5):1-13, 3/2018
Hydropower contributes to a higher share of renewables but is also in conflict with environmental legislation aiming to protect natural habitats, wildlife and endangered species. Analysing two neighbouring European countries with similar topographical and hydromporphological characteristics, Austria and Slovenia, allows assessing to what extent a policies’ national context steers possible policy conflicts of EU legislation. The paper shows that hydropower expansion in examined countries is strongly shaped by factors such as financial concerns of investors, diverging opinions of involved stakeholders, available hydro potential and the role of hydropower in national energy strategies. Addressing issues that lead to a lower effectiveness of national policies already at the level of EU policy design or engaging countries to broadening their national energy portfolio by considering emerging technologies such as PV and wind will enable future energy and climate strategies that are more consistent with other environmental goals.