A strategic impact assessment of hydropower plants in alpine and non-alpine areas of Europe

M. A. Parvez Mahmud, Nazmul Huda*, Shahjadi Hisan Farjana, Candace Lang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Hydropower is the widely used source of clean energy which includes some hazardous emissions that affect human health, ecosystems, and resources. However, in spite of an enormous amount of hydropower generation in Europe, no research has been carried out in evaluating the hazardous emissions from the plants located in alpine and non-alpine areas. Therefore, this paper will analyse the comparative environmental impacts of hydropower plants in alpine and non-alpine areas of Europe by a systematic life-cycle assessment (LCA)approach. The impacts are estimated by the ReCiPe 2016, Impact 2002+, Eco-points 97 methods under a number of effect-assessing indicators such as global warming, ozone formation, eco-toxicity, water consumption, acidification, eutrophication, ionizing radiation, carcinogenic radiation, ozone depletion, and land use. Moreover, the fossil-fuel-based power consumptions and the greenhouse-gas emissions in the life-cycle of hydropower plants in both locations are estimated using the Cumulative Energy Demand (CED)and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)methods, respectively. The outcomes reveal that hydropower plants of alpine regions offer a better environmental profile for the global-warming indicator (2.97×10 -5 kg CO 2 -eq/MJ)than non-alpine plants (3.92×10 -4 kg CO 2 -eq/MJ), but the effects are nearly identical for the other indicators. Overall, the hydropower plants of non-alpine regions are responsible for climate change with a rate 10 times as high as for alpine ones. The findings of this research will play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable production of hydropower, especially the full potentials of the alpine region, and thus leading towards environmentally friendly clean renewable electricity generation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-214
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2019


  • Hydropower plant
  • Alpine and non-alpine regions
  • Life-cycle assessment
  • Environmental performance evaluation
  • Uncertainty analysis


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