RESTOR Hydro Day in Belgium

D8E_4349-red-683x1024The RESTOR Hydro Day in Belgium took place on Friday 24th April 2015 in Tinlot and Clavier.

The day focused on local dynamics around renewable energy projects and more specifically participative hydroenergy.

Organised by EDORA, in collaboration with APERe and Condroz Énergies Citoyennes scrl, the event gathered a wide range of stakeholders from the region Condroz and beyond, actors of citizen participation in renewable energy, project developers, politicians, municipalities, administration, actors of local/rural development, study bureaux, professionals from the hydropower sector, river managers…

As an introduction to the day, a panel was held around the large theme “Local dynamics around Climate and energy as tools for territorial re appropriation”. The panel gathered municipalities (Marchin – mayor Eric Lomba – and Donceel – Bernadette Rome and Laurence Delooz), a project developer in bioenergy (Grégory Racelle), local development structures (Bernard Sepulchre and Jean-François Pêcheur) and an association that helps to develop a strategy in local energy and climate policies (Frédéric Praillet from APERe).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The afternoon was entirely devoted to hydroenergy.

After a small opening speech by Noémie Laumont from the renewable energy federation EDORA, the project video about small hydropower in Europe and about benefits of repowering old mills was presented.

Johanna D’Hernoncourt presented the activities undertaken under the RESTOR Hydro project, with a focus on the three pilot sites that were chosen for the restoration program. She also presented the RESTOR Hydro Map and HYDI database.

Members of the cooperative Condroz Énergies Citoyennes whose developement has been encouraged and supported by the RESTOR Hydro project, presented the history, purpose and future of the cooperative (Hervé Pirard) and the successful crowdfunding campaign undertaken in June-July 2014 to complete the necessary budget for technical studies (Steve Francis). The contractual options possible between site owners and a cooperative were also presented by an expert who accompanies the cooperative Condroz Énergies Citoyennes on this matter (Sébastien Cassart from SYNECO).

The last part of the afternoon was devoted to a workshop on cooperatives. The pro and cons of citizen involvement were discussed with a panel of representatives of citizen associations or cooperatives active in the hydroenergy field: Condroz Énergies Citoyennes (Steve Francis), HesbEnergie (Christian De Cock), BassEole (Henri Libon), Emissions Zéro (Alain Damay) and Aisnagué project in the Lafosse Mill (Olivier Meessen).

The difficulties around such projects were discussed. Hydro is widely seen as a key field for renewable energy and economic development as well as heritage preservation. Such projects are also perceived as a starting point for deeper engagement of citizens in renewable energy production and positive climate actions.

There were 66 participants in total during the day. In their evaluation of the RESTOR Hydro Day, they appreciated the competence of the speakers, the richness of the debates and the opportunities of networking, as well as the general organisation and choice of venue.

The day offered great opportunities of exchanging experience and networking for a wide range of stakeholders around renewable energy and especially for hydroenergy. The participants benefitted from a large experience of restoration projects encouraged by the RESTOR Hydro project (Clavier, Marchin and Houffalize).

After the debates, a visit of one of the pilot sites of the RESTOR Hydro project was held: the wooden wheel of the old pumping station of Les Avins in Clavier was shown. Guided tours and a concert were organised on the site. The population of the whole village was invited to the late afternoon event. The visits and the concert gathered around 100 people.


Report and presentations during the RESTOR Hydro Days in Belgium (in French):

RESTOR Mills Days in Greece: 24-26 April 2015

RESTOR Mills Days

RESTOR Mills Days in Greece: 24-26 April 2015

pictAThe RESTOR Hydro Days in Greece took place from Friday until Sunday, 24-26 of April 2015 in Naoussa, Greece. The specific location has been selected, since there are many mills in the area, and the case studies examined during the RESTOR Hydro project are all located there. Apart from that, the local people are in favour of such sites and are willing to further get involved on the main concept that the project promotes. The poster for informing the public for this event is shown on the right.

The invitation, the program and the speakers are given next. A seminar has been organized on the 24th of April, where the speakers presented the local mills and discussed the possibility of operating such sites for electricity production. The discussion was focused on the active involvement of the public and the historical/cultural aspects of old mills. Focus was also given on environmental issues. The Vice-Mayor of Naoussa City also gave a speech on the utilization of existing mills and their refurbishment. The seminar ended with a short film with title “Water as energy source”, in collaboration with the “Naoussa International Film Festival (NIFF)”. A dinner followed, ending the first day.

pictBOn the second day of the event (25th of April), the presentations started from early in the morning. Six local mills in total have been presented (of various sizes), while an interesting workshop has been organized in the afternoon of the same day. Site visits to few mills were also possible, in order to have a close view of the existing mills (some are still operating).

In parallel, educational activities took place relevant to mills in the cultural center of the city, such as “The secret of the river”. Moreover, local products have been exhibited and provided to the public, such as wines and sweets. A small theatrical play took place on Saturday afternoon, while the day continued with the speeches of Prof. Dimitris Papantonis (NTUA), concerning the technical improvements of water mills and of Associate Professor Dimitris Manolakos (NTUA), presenting the overall activities of the RESTOR Hydro project, the RESTOR Hydro Map, and the project objectives.

pictCOn Saturday evening, some additional speakers presented relevant issues, such as the operation of mills and their maintenance, and mills as museums promoting the traditional features of every area.

The third and final day of this event (26th of April) started with more site visits to local mills and to a local museum with a small break during noon. The activities continued in the afternoon mostly with cultural activities, such as with songs for water, ballet dancing, and wine tasting.

pictDThere were about 100 participants in total in the events. The main conclusion is that this event was successful, attracting the interest of the local public, as well as some organizations relevant to mills and hydropower in Greece (such as the Hellenic Small Hydropower Association, and the Environmental Educational Centre of Naoussa). The main target of this event was to promote the project concept and present the mills sites to the public. This was succeeded, which was evident from the intense participation to the site visits.


The event has been promoted through various channels, while some photos and information can be found in the following links:


report about HEB Mills map days and workshop on cooperatives in Slovenia

Go to the source

Example of converting a historical mill into a modern micro hydropower plant in Poland.

Small and Micro Hydropower Restoration Handbook, All-Inclusive Replicable Model

ESHA, in the scope of the RESTOR Hydro project, issued the Small and Micro Hydropower Restoration Handbook, All-Inclusive Replicable Model.

This document provides you with a practical guideline that includes:

  • Detailed information on the technical permitting process aiming at reducing the perceived financial risk of the unknown requirements that may stop, delay or derail a project.
  • Best technical options for the refurbishment of historical waterwheels/mills will be defined together with information on civil and environmental engineering, electrical and mechanical engineering, operations and maintenance. Best environmental solutions are proposed.
  • Comprehensive information describing how to fund small and micro hydro-power. Different funding options are explored and analyses of benefits and risks presented.

The RESTOR Hydro video is online. Check it out!

RESTORHydroVideo from cathy coolen on Vimeo.

CONDROZ ENERGIES CITOYENNES – crowd funding target reached

The crowdfunding target of the Belgian cooperative to be “Condroz Energies Citoyennes” was reached : 58 donators helped the future cooperative to collect 4235€ in 65 days! This money will help to launch the technical studies for the mills that will be refurbished.

Condroz Energies Citoyennes

Les_Avins_MosaiqueIn Belgium, the cooperative to be “Condroz Energies Citoyennes” is involved in the restoration of three projects in Wallonia, with the help of the local RESTOR Hydro partners.
Exploring alternative financing, the group has now launched a crowdfunding campaign to complete the envelope available for technical studies.
For more info and to support the project (in French only):
You can also visit the website of the cooperative to be (in French only):


ProjektRESTORGdaskThe third RESTOR Hydro Project Meeting was held in Straszyn, Poland, on the 24th of September 2013. Straszyn, the village situated a few kilometres from Gdańsk is known for the historical hydropower plant built in 1910, located right next to the meeting venue. Perhaps, thanks to this neighbourhood the atmosphere of the meeting was very inspiring. Participants made a general review and long-term planning for the second half of the project and discussed lessons learnt. Robert Szlęzak from TRMEW portrayed the pilot sites in Poland selected to be rebuilt by cooperatives. His presentation reflected the progress that has been done in the RESTOR Hydro project realisation resulting from the efforts of the Polish partner.

In parallel to the third Project Meeting a site visit was organised to historical hydropower plants in the area of Gdańsk in order to collect the footage for producing a web video illustrating the project. The objects selected for filming were small hydropower plants on rivers Wierzyca and Piesienica: SHP Owidz, SHP Kolincz and two plants in Nowia Wieś Rzeczna. Most of the visited sites are examples of water mills rebuilt into hydropower plants in the way it is promoted in the RESTOR Hydro project. To see the visited plants and spy out how the film was made look here.

The Power of Hydro

Article from Revolve magazine (source)

Despite the rise of Asian hydro equipment companies, the top three equipment suppliers to hydro power plants are based in Europe. Alstom, Andritz Hydro and Voith comprise over 50% of the world market, according to Christine van Oldeneel, Managing Director of the Hydro Equipment Association (HEA), and invest around €150 million per year on research and development across Europe.

Emmanuel Branche from EDF claims there remains 47% of untapped hydropower potential around Europe. The potential is therefore enormous considering that hydro has the highest electricity efficiency rate and the highest energy payback ratio with the most efficient storage technology and a very low carbon footprint on land and water.

However, many improvements can still be made. Investing in hydro requires long-term vision and high capital with the knowledge that there will be a late payback. Mr. Branche encourages the long permit granting procedure to be simplified and to harmonize the grid fees for pumped storage in different countries across Europe. He also stresses that it is now important to move from renewable to sustainable hydropower.


And there are important environmental considerations to address and to improve. Sergey Moroz, Freshwater Policy Officer at WWF, affirms that 40% of rivers are affected in Europe. When badly designed, badly managed or badly placed, dams can have negative impacts on nature, as described in the 2013 WWF report: Seven Sins of Dam Building

Just as some rivers are the wrong rivers to build dams on, so some hydropower plants may not be sustainably placed. He advises to use the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocoldeveloped by a multi-stakeholder body.

Olivier Teller from Alstom presented the HEA Technology Roadmap. This document offers five solutions for hydro generation to improve further its contribution to the European goals and targets. They include ways to increase the plant flexibility and the renewable energy generation from hydro and also the ability to maximize the environmentally-friendly deployment of hydro for fish to pass through turbines without danger and the development of oil-free turbines such as the Kaplan turbine.

Mr. Teller also recommends improving calculations for more precise testing to increase hydroelectricity production and to raise the capacity of pumped hydro storage. Double grid fees should be removed to encourage greater financing of innovation. On the transnational European level, more small hydropower can be developed and generated on grids. These recommendations are detailed in the technology roadmap that HEA will soon release.

For the time being, however, there is “no proper policy for hydro” in the European Union, confirms Clementine Lallier from DG Energy at the European Commission. “Renewables will become the core of Europe’s energy mix,” she says and hydro will play a prominent role due to the quick reaction time, the storage capacity and the potential for grid stability.

Supported by Intelligent Energy Europe, a European Commission funding mechanism, at the small hydropower level, the Renewable Energy Sources Transforming our Regions (RESTOR) Hydro is renovating and repowering abandoned sites to again generate hydroelectricity through local cooperatives. The European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA) coordinates the implementation and collection of data for 50,000 potential sites within European Member States. The project was launched in June 2012 with a budget of €2.5 million.


A fascinating dimension of the RESTOR Hydro project is the mapping of historical water wheels and mills that have fallen out of operation. This exercise enables the restoration of hydropower heritage and opens the door for small and micro hydropower to participate once again in providing energy; with 350,000 old sites within the EU-27, the impact could be very significant.

Compared to large hydro projects, RESTOR Hydro is rather small. The European Investment Bank (EIB) lent over €400 million to hydropower projects in 2012, which pales in comparison to over €800 million for offshore wind in Europe. Investing in a sustainable future will mean more financing for renewables in general, and for hydro in particular to become more innovative and more environmentally-friendly.

Writer: Stuart Reigeluth is Founding Editor of Revolve.