Hydropower adds up to nearly 19 percent of the world’s production of power. In Norway it represents approximately 99 percent of the total electric power produced. Norway is significant producer of hydropower, as well as in the international context. The amount of power produced in Norway is the highest in Europe, with a sum of 120 TWh per annum. Sweden and France follow each one with about 65 TWh on a yearly basis. Around 86 percent of electricity that is generated from renewable around the world nowadays originates from hydropower. The expertise that Norway has in hydropower and its varied competence fields is globally very powerful. This capability, which is regular fro every type of hydropower plants, touches domains such as hydrology, construction, environment, civil engineering in addition to machines such as power electronics.
Hydropower is essential for Norway, and the activities in progress relates mostly to the restoration and improvement of existing plants, on top of the construction of hydropower of small scales ( less than 10MW). Furthermore there is the day-to-day operation, maintenance and licensing. In the days to come, hydropower will progressively become more important to stabilize the production of power from a regime which comprises of a rising production from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar energy.
There is great potential to construct new hydropower plants worldwide. It is calculated that hardly 25 – 30 percent of all installations that are economically feasible are exploited up to now. With a rising significance given to climate subject matters in relation to the production of energy, hydropower will consist of the solution, since hydropower does not add much to the emission of greenhouse gases.
The SINTEF and the NTNU have study activities that cover the majority of the facets linked to hydropower. The hydropower laboratory operates with controlling the turbines, developing new designs and extending the lifetime of turbines that are exposed to sand erosion. The Department of Geology and Mineral Resources Engineering is bestowed with much expertise regarding the planning and operation of tunnels. At the Hydraulic Laboratory much research is carried out in river engineering, intake and transport of water and dam security. The Environmental Engineering, SINTEF Energy Research and Department of Hydraulic elaborate processes to predict inflow as well as the operation and planning of the power plants. Jointly with various local and international partners within water ecology, NTNU and SINTEF possess powerful competence within the evaluation of an environmental effect from hydropower plants. Unifying forces with the research institutions in Norway such as NTNU, SINTEF and NINA have been rewarded a centre for research known as “Centre for Environmental Design of Renewable Energy”. The centre is sponsored by the Norwegian Research Council and will throughout its eight-year lifetime turn into a crucial arena for research within environmental impacts and the way the Norwegian hydropower system should be designed in the days to come.