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A GIS tool to evaluate the effective hydropower potential in the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola Italian Province

pubblicazioni - Memoria

A GIS tool to evaluate the effective hydropower potential in the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola Italian Province

Hydropower production is the most important renewable energy source in the Italian electricity system, with more than 2.000 plants, more than 17 GW power installed and a mean annual production of about 40 TWh. Recent studies concerning the potential of small scale hydropower generation in Italy show that there are conditions for growing the current level of small hydro production. Due to the increasing attention to environmental protection on one hand, and unexploited watercourses on the other hand, the role of small hydropower has gained particular attention. An estimation of the remaining potential of hydroelectric energy, requires a careful study that takes into account the various uses of water (potable, industrial, energy, irrigation, etc.) existing or committed for future concessions. The next step concerns the calculation of the “effective” hydropower potential: there are technical, environmental and administrative constraints that cut down and assign an exploitation difficulty level to the quantity of energy that could be possible to recover. Constraints like protected areas, elevation, land slide areas, distance to the existing electric lines and to the populated zones and others are considered in the present work. The model uses a numerical technique coupled with a GIS of the hydrological and physiographic characteristics of each basin, at a national scale. This paper shows the application of the GIS tool to the Verbano-Cusio-Ossola Province in the North of Italy, taking into account the present and future water exploitation scheme and the technical, environmental and administrative constrains as national and regional parks etc. The GIS model covers the entire Province area, with a distributed concept using a 40×40 m grid. Each cell has the necessary physiographic information, the rainfall data, the corresponded runoff coefficients, the remaining discharge and the potential effective hydropower energy.Considering a combination of past and current precipitation fields and possible future hydropower plants, a set of 3 scenarios of potential hydropower maps were made. The tool developed and the produced maps demonstrate to be quite helpful instruments to support Administrations, decision makers and stakeholders in general to assess and implement small scale hydropower plants.

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