Research Projects

HydroConnect – Impacts of connecting Norwegian hydropower to continental Europe and the UK

SINTEF Energy Research, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, The University of Trento
Funding The Research Council of Norway, Agder Energi, BKK, EnergiNorge, Hydro Energi, Lyse Produksjon, Sira-Kvina kraftselskap
01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024
Researchers Fraunhofer IEE
Dr.-Ing. Philipp Härtel (Project Manager), Richard Schmitz


Achieving climate-neutrality targets in Europe requires substantial deployments of variable renewable electricity generation in the transition to 2050. Pan-European power and energy systems face several cross-border and cross-sectoral integration challenges to facilitate an effective and efficient transition. Norwegian hydropower has a large storage capacity in existing reservoirs that can be used for large-scale balancing and energy storage integrated with continental Europe and the United Kingdom.

Scenario overview
© Fraunhofer IEE
Scenario overview
Exemplary electricity consumption in the scenarios
© Fraunhofer IEE
Exemplary electricity consumption in the scenarios
Exemplary import/export-balance in the scenarios
© Fraunhofer IEE
Exemplary import/export-balance in the scenarios


The HydroConnect project is a “Knowledge-building Project for Industry”partly funded by the Research Council of Norway, and will investigate if Norwegian hydropower can play a significant role in climate change mitigation. It will investigate this role by analysing the impacts on carbon dioxide emissions in Europe, electricity prices in Norway and Europe, and the environmental impacts on Norwegian reservoirs and rivers based on different scenarios for the development of the power system and interconnectors in 2030 and 2050.

The project will analyse the effects of using Norwegian hydropower for large-scale balancing for continental Europe and the UK, answering important research questions:

  • How can Norwegian hydropower contribute to the decarbonisation of the European power system?
  • What are the consequences on the Norwegian power system of delivering balancing services to Europe?
  • What are the implications of participating in several markets on the operations and income of hydropower plants?
  • What will be the impacts of future hydropower operations on environmental conditions in reservoirs?

Role of Fraunhofer IEE

Fraunhofer IEE is fully funded for its role as an international research partner in the HydroConnect project. With our experience and tools for medium- to long-term scenario developments for energy system transformations, we mainly contribute to the research work on “Impacts on the European Power System” within the project. More specifically, we use our SCOPE Scenario Development modelling and optimisation framework to compute relevant scenarios for Norwegian hydropower in the future. To analyse its role in future European energy scenario settings, we employ a detailed hydropower model for the multi-reservoir hydro valleys and investigate several scenario variants reflecting essential uncertainties in the future. These include increased Norwegian electricity demand, public onshore wind power acceptance, increased offshore wind deployments, including offshore energy islands, and varying green hydrogen import prices.


Our work is a joint effort and is conducted in close cooperation with our research partners at SINTEF Energi AS and NTNU. Together, we improve our knowledge of how hydropower can be used to balance variable renewable energy sources. Based on the results from the HydroBalance project and power system scenarios from openENTRANCE, HydroConnect will evaluate the effects of the Norwegian hydropower system providing balancing services to the European power system at short (2030) and long (2050) time horizons with different scenarios of power system development. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IEE’s database on hydropower plants across Europe has also been aligned and updated for the Norwegian power system.