Future development scenarios
Based on these findings, the researchers then developed various future market development scenarios up to 2030. Coal and gas prices, the cost of CO2 certificates as well as the corresponding prices on the balancing energy market were incorporated in the scenarios.
Profit opportunities on the balancing energy market are set to diminish in future. This is because an increase in the number of involved market participants will see prices fall – by 7 % to 16 % according to the researchers’ calculations. Greenhouse gas and CO2 certificate prices will also have a major influence. Overall, however, the researchers believe there are opportunities for hydropower plants to also generate profits in future with smart planning and flexible production. They then confirmed this result in two case studies with hydropower plants in Valais and Ticino. This demonstrates that the general findings are representative for the Swiss hydropower sector.
Nevertheless, business will not be easy. And the research work shows that there is no single solution that can be applied to all hydropower plants in equal measure – the local conditions of each individual installation must always be considered. The hydropower plant operators are therefore called upon to proceed accordingly. According to the researchers, the results of the project – publicly accessible models and price curves – are helpful here, especially for smaller operators that are unable to afford sophisticated scenario calculations themselves.