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Framework for Decision-Making Process in Granting Rights to Use Hydropower in the European Context

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Voegeli Guillaume, Gaudard Ludovic, Romerio Franco, Hediger Werner,
Project Regional Impact Analysis and Sustainability Assessment of Hydropower
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Water
Volume (Issue) 10(7)
Page(s) 930
Title of proceedings Water
DOI 10.3390/w10070930

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The European electricity landscape is facing an ambivalent situation between: (1) common market platforms; and (2) national and subnational jurisdictions, which impose their specific rules on energy sectors. This particularly affects hydropower, as the latter faces inequalities in the procedures needed for the attribution of water rights. Besides jurisdictional disparities, the European Union requires this attribution to follow competitive processes and the integration of sustainable development goals for energy projects, while other countries connected to the European grid such as Switzerland and Norway still know different procedures and requirements. Therefore, this article addresses concerns regarding the lack of harmonization of water regimes in Europe. Imposing a common jurisdiction to countries connected to the European grid would be politically very challenging. Our approach overcomes this challenge by proposing a process adaptable to specific local rules and allows a comparison of water rights attribution procedures. In this frame, we propose a nine-step process, based on three goals: (1) to enhance competitive access by ensuring the highest rent transfer related to water rights; (2) to prioritize projects closer to sustainability goals; and (3) to ensure the efficiency of the process itself.