The breadth and coverage of analytical expertise in the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs) are unique assets that underpin IEA efforts to support innovation for energy security, economic growth and environmental protection. The 38 TCPs operating today involve about 6 000 experts from government, industry and research organisations in more than 50 countries1.

Hydropower TCP


Easing fish migration past hydropower plants

The objectives of the Hydropower TCP are to raise awareness, knowledge and support for the sustainable use of water resources for the development and management of hydropower. Recent activities included promoting best practices that enable hydropower plant operators to manage wildlife migration while ensuring protection of species and habitats. 

Fish ladders facilitate the upstream migration of fish past a hydropower plant.*

Hydropower is a mature technology and the largest current source of renewable power in the world.** Hydropower plants provide reliable, baseload power and each installation may have a lifetime of 50 years or more. Hydropower plants are designed for the specific topography of the operation site and thus exist in many different configurations.

Despite the significant potential for hydropower technology to provide clean supply of baseload electricity, concerns over the environmental impacts of large hydropower plants may delay some future developments and result in increased costs.

This interrelationship between hydropower and fish is an important aspect that is increasingly addressed by environmental impact studies associated with hydropower projects. There is considerable interest in research to formulate best practices for fish management in rivers with dams and other aspects directly or indirectly affecting the passage of migratory fish, altering the water temperature, flow rate and other factors.

For these reasons the Hydropower TCP initiated a study that aimed to collect complete information and advice on fish management, fish migration and river sustainability issues, which decision makers could take into consideration when overseeing the development and operation of hydropower projects.

Participants in the Hydropower TCP work stream, “Hydropower and Fish”, conducted fact finding workshops focusing on two-way fish migration past hydropower structures in rivers in Finland, Italy, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), and Norway. Australia, France, and the United States also contributed information to the study.

Workshop discussions focused on principles for sustainable fish management, effective measures for ecological continuity (fish passage), and effective measures for fish protection for migrating and non-migratory species. In addition regulatory regimes for fish management and effective management models were reviewed.

These events resulted in the collection of case histories and studies, surveys and research reports on fish management topics, including specific species such as salmon, trout and eels.

Best practices highlighted from the workshops include fish-friendly turbines in the Lower Mekong river basin (Lao PDR), protection of eels in the Weser river basin (Germany), and dam removal and habitat restoration for Atlantic salmon (Norway).

These findings, together with a comparative analysis of fish management approaches, best practices, and a gap analysis of the needs for future research are currently being compiled into the final compendium, Fish Management in a Hydropower Context (Hydropower TCP, forthcoming).

* Photo courtesy of Hans-Petter Fjeldstand, SINTEF, Norway


  • Hydropower and fish
  • Hydropower services
  • Managing GHG emissions from freshwater reservoirs
  • Renewal and upgrading of hydorpower plants
  • Small-scale hydropower


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Contracting Parties  5 2  1
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