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Title: Hydropower in Scotland : linking changing energy and environmental agendas with sustainability outcomes
Author: Nelson, Edward
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2013
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As the UK energy sector moves to a greater contribution from low-carbon and renewable sources it faces significant challenges in delivering affordability, security of supply and sustainability. Although hydropower in Scotland emerged on a large scale in the mid-20th century against an influential, changing wider context of energy policy, environmental regulation and debate, it is now subject to an evolving renewables agenda. This further shapes the national and scheme level characteristics of hydropower and in turn outcomes for the water environment. Contingent upon these considerations, hydropower regulation must now deliver on EU obligations to protect and improve the ecological status of water bodies, whilst also supporting domestic efforts to meet high profile binding renewable energy targets. Yet, despite an acknowledged potential for energy policy to constrain the delivery of water policy objectives, there is little policy harmonisation between disciplines. As Scotland orientates itself as a leader in Europe on climate change, transitioning to increasing amounts of renewable generation across a handful of technologies, there is a gap in knowledge about how specific renewable policies and trends can influence hydropower sustainability outcomes and regulatory challenges. This thesis therefore contributes an innovative and timely critical examination of the effect a changing wider renewable energy and policy context has on hydropower sustainability in Scotland, at a scheme and national level. This research uses an interdisciplinary, temporal analysis to identify linkages and create dialogue between disciplines and scales, informing the pursuit of sustainable renewable energy through policy and regulation in a changing world. It finds firstly, that the changing national generation mix towards an increased contribution from renewable sources, including potentially intermittent technologies such as wind power, has contributed to an alteration in the operational characteristics and reservoir variability profile of Cruachan pumped-storage scheme, presenting positive outcomes for reservoir littoral habitats. Secondly, it finds that whilst not operating in isolation, renewable energy incentive policies, through their eligibility criteria, financial reward frameworks and timing, influence hydropower characteristics and sustainability challenges, providing trade-offs but also synergies for hydropower regulation. Finally, it finds that there is a degree of divergence in hydropower outcomes and challenges in Scotland and Norway, due to the characteristics and especially interaction of wider contextual elements such as topography, profile of precipitation input, national energy needs and the role of regional and municipal government. By highlighting these linkages, this thesis is of value to energy policy and environmental regulation in Scotland and across the EU, and is seen as a first step in addressing these uncertainties and supporting a more integrated and sustainable hydropower and renewables governance framework.
Supervisor: Oram, Richard; Gilvear, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Renewable energy ; Hydropower ; Scotland ; Energy ; Sustainability ; Rivers ; Wind Power ; Energy incentives ; Water Framework Directive ; Regulation ; Policy ; Climate ; Renewables ; SEPA ; Water-power Scotland ; Water-power Government policy Scotland ; Renewable energy sources Scotland ; Environmental economics Scotland