During the past Dam Removal Europe seminar in Sweden, Sara Sandberg from Fortum and Johan Tielman from E.On presented “The hydropower industry’s perspective on dam removal.”
During their presentation they noted they see no reason to keep dams on a general principle. But they also do not see any reason to tear dams out on a general principle.
In Fortum’s opinion, when a dam in their possession does not fill any relevant purpose for the renewable energy system, they consider removing it. But before removing a dam, they determine what effects this removal will have on the local community, as well as on the local environment.
Sometimes, a dam maintains a lake that is much appreciated by local inhabitants for recreational purposes or lakeside property. In other cases, residents may want to keep a dam due to cultural values. In these cases, Fortum tries to find a solution that will make the local residents happy. This might mean trying to find someone else to take over the dam (e.g. a municipality).
Other times, the environmental values are so important that it takes precedence over other aspects but at other times recreational or cultural values are deemed more important. Fortum finds in all cases, however, the key is to identify and weigh all aspects of the effects of a dam removal. Then, through a communicative and participative process, they find a solution that makes all stakeholders happy.
Fortum currently has around 70 dams that are undergoing evaluation for removal. This past year, they have removed two of them. In both cases, the environmental values were great. It remains to be seen what will happen with the remaining dams as they are all assessed individually.
Thank you both for the presentation on the hydropower industry’s perspective on dam removal!