The Challenge

More renewable energy

By 2050, the European Union predicts that more than 80% of its electricity will come from renewable energy sources, up from 37.5% in 2020. This scenario relies on a massive integration of non-dispatchable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, into the European power system. At the same time, dispatchable and controllable assets such as fossil fuel thermal power plants will be decommissioned. This evolution will force grid operators and energy companies to change the way they operate.

Balancing the new power grid

As they do now, transmission system operators will have to ensure that enough electricity is available to keep the lights on without overloading transmission wires. This is an essential task: if the system is out of balance or the flow of electricity is destabilised, it could damage equipment or cause power failures. What will change are the sources of power and equipment that will be available to balance the system.


Upgrading hydropower plants

Hydropower plants are the backbone of renewable power systems. Not only are hydropower plants able to provide baseline energy and peak power, they can also deliver the full range of services that enable the grid to be flexible and absorb energy from other sources like solar and wind. Hydropower plants can provide: fast frequency control, fast start/stop, fast transition from generating to pumping modes, high ramping rate, inertia emulation, etc.

The Project

Pushing the limits of technology

XFLEX HYDRO is about upgrading the capability of hydropower plants with minimal transformation and improving the quality and reliability of power in the grid. XFLEX HYDRO power plants are designed to be more flexible than traditional power plants and provide a range of services to ensure that local and regional power grids remain reliable and resilient to current and future energy supply disruptions.


XFLEX HYDRO brings together nineteen institutional partners with internationally-recognised expertise to study and demonstrate the project's premise: that it is possible to extend the flexibility of existing hydropower plant, using advanced software solutions and modest technological upgrades.

Sector association
Equipment manufacturer
Research networks
Energy companies

Seven pioneering plants

Frades 2
Alto Lindso
Pumped storage
Alqueva (Portugal)
Frades 2 (Portugal)
Grand'Maison (France)
Z'Mutt (Switzerland)
Vogelgrun (France)
Alto Lindoso (Portugal)
Caniçada (Spain)

Find out more about the XFLEX project in the Knowledge Hub

Knowledge hub