In Slovakia, hydropower is used as a renewable source for electricity production in hydropower plants, which are divided according to output into small hydropower plants up to 10 MW and large hydropower plants with a capacity of over 10 MW. There are currently 222 MVE facilities in operation in Slovakia, of which 126 have an output of up to 100 kW. There are 24 large hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 1531 MW [1]. These also include pumped storage hydropower plants. Together with small hydropower plants, hydropower in Slovakia represents 2574 MW of installed capacity.

The first hydroelectric power plant in Slovakia was built in Krompachy in 1889 with an installed capacity of 22 kW and produced direct current with a voltage of 110 V. The first hydroelectric power plant with alternating current followed 5 years later, in 1894 on the river Poprad. Electricity from this power plant illuminated the city's public spaces [2]. Between the years 1889-1899, 22 hydroelectric power plants with an output of about 1580 kW were built in Slovakia. With the development of industry, the electricity demand also increased. The construction of hydroelectric power plants accelerated and between 1900-1918 another 46 waterworks with an output of 13154 kW were put into operation. Between 1918 and 1945, the construction of hydroelectric power plants continued, which was also beneficial in terms of the use of waterworks to regulate watercourses. During this period, the first experience with the regulation of the electricity system was gained. At the end of 1945, 100 hydroelectric power plants with a total output of 22760 kW were put into operation in Slovakia. A document issued by the Ministry in 1930 states that there were 3,097 waterworks with a total installed capacity of 3,740 kW in our territory. Most of these facilities were small hydropower plants (MVE).

MVE Zeliezovce

The construction of the MVE, especially in the 1990s, was marked by extensive development with a lack of expertise. Investors had little experience with the design, implementation, and operation of these types of RES. At the same time, they lacked sufficient capital resources to select quality and efficient technology. As a result of this situation, there are currently still operating MVEs with lower quality technology with comparatively lower efficiency and reliability, which do not make efficient use of the efficient hydropower potential available in the given locality during sustainable operation. At the same time, the requirements for environmental solutions related to the construction of SHPPs have changed in the meantime, which are currently much stricter, and their fulfilment is, therefore, more demanding and costly. This applies not only to the requirements for crossing migration barriers - the construction of new ones or the revitalization and functioning of existing fish passages. This also includes requirements for accurate monitoring of energy water abstraction or biological flow into the original watercourse, monitoring of fish passages, requirements for reliability of operation, remote control, remote data transmission and others. There have also been new requirements for climate change mitigation, an issue that has not been addressed at all in the 1990s.

The technical sustainability of hydropower plants depends on the hydropower potential of watercourses, on which it is appropriate to consider the implementation of their construction. This aspect is currently officially defined in the document entitled "Update of the concept of utilization of hydropower potential of watercourses of the Slovak Republic until 2030". The concept was approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic in 2017. It is necessary to consider that even this document does not have to accurately express the real technical potential. The concept identifies a total of 655 profiles (see map in the figure below) with a total technically usable hydropower potential of 6683 GWh / year, of which 246 profiles are already in use and the other 409 profiles are not yet used. Of these, 375 profiles are suitable for the construction of SHPPs and 4 profiles for hydroelectric power plants over 10 MW. The concept also specifically defines 58 profiles that have a conditionally suitable hydropower potential regarding the criteria for the selection of profiles within the meaning of the Water Framework Directive. It is also clear from the concept that the technical hydropower potential of small hydropower plants is used only at 25%. Given the identified hydropower potential of the territory of the Slovak Republic and in connection with the technical characteristics of hydropower plants, it is clear that technically sustainable development of hydropower can take place in three basic areas:

  1. Construction of new large hydropower plants, which comes into consideration in 4 profiles (Sereď, Ipeľ, Čunovo, Devín).
  2. Construction of new SHPPs in one of the 375 currently unused profiles. 171 profiles are not yet used in the category with an output of up to 0.1 MW, 106 profiles are available in the category from 0.1 MW to 1 MW and 66 profiles are possible in the category from 1 MW to 10 MW.

  3. Reconstruction or modernization of existing hydropower plants, which will increase the use of available hydropower potential by using more modern technologies. Because SHP projects have a technical lifespan, which when properly operated and maintained.

Mapa vodných profilov

However, hydropower plants that are built on an existing waterworks (hati) owned by the flow manager (especially the Slovak Water Management Company) must pay a special fee for the use of hydropower potential (HEP), which is currently for large hydropower plants with an output of more than 10 MW. set at a high level that significantly interferes with the profitability of these types of resources. The HEP fee should be used by the watercourse administrator to cover the investment costs for maintenance, but this is not the case in practice. The fee in question in this form is unique within the entire EU and especially in the price zone of the electricity market in which Slovakia is located and within which these RESs must compete in the sale of electricity.

Národný energetický a klimatický plán konkrétne rieši projekt Vodnej elektrárne Sereď, ktorý by mohol využívať vodný potenciál na rieke Váh v úseku Sereď- Hlohovec. Táto elektráreň by mohla vyrábať 180 GWh elektrickej energie ročne.

The National Recovery Plan in connection with hydropower plants talks primarily about the modernization of existing facilities. Reconstruction of existing facilities can increase the capacity of electricity production from RES while maintaining sustainability and environmental protection criteria. The National Recovery Plan is intended to provide financial support mainly to pumped storage hydropower plants, which will increase the flexibility of the electricity system thanks to modernization. Installations that will apply for financial support from the Recovery Plan must increase the regulatory scope of the installation by at least 25%. Supported hydropower plants will have to comply with the provisions of Directive 2000/60 / EC. [3]



[1] Data from 2021

[2] Source: Západoslovenská energetika

[3] Source: Plán obnovy SR

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