GIS-based approach for assessing the energy potential and the financial feasibility of run-off-river hydro-power in Alpine valleys
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In the last decade, European attractive policies are favoring the construction of new run-off hydro-power plants. The realization cost of these plants is quite low in mountain areas thanks to small water discharges and high gross heads. For this reason, small rivers have been strongly exploited without considering an optimal use of the resource. Nowadays, available sites are often in areas with low accessibility and a greater specific cost of civil engineering works. However, during the planning of new small hydro-power plants, the dependency of physical, technical, legal and financial variable on space is often not assessed. The tool presented in this paper addresses this gap to support the planning of run-off-river plants. The method improves on previous approaches by (1) integrating all the legal, technical and financial analysis in a GIS tool, and (2) trying to validate the site-specific model with local knowledge. The tool is applied to the Gesso and Vermenagna valleys in the Alps. Information and data were collected and discussed with local stakeholders in order to improve the model results.