Water Resources Management

, Volume 30, Issue 9, pp 2979–2996 | Cite as

An Integrated GIS Approach to Assess the Mini Hydropower Potential

  • A. Palla
  • I. GneccoEmail author
  • P. La Barbera
  • M. Ivaldi
  • D. Caviglia


An analytical approach to assess the mini hydropower potential is proposed on a GIS platform. The mini hydropower potential is defined in terms of a synthetic index that measures the investment feasibility of a given hydropower plant. The investigation of the mini hydropower potential is performed at the catchment scale by integrating: catchment morphometric analysis; setting criteria for locating the weirs and powerhouses; hydrological modelling; engineering analysis; economic analysis and mapping. The integrated approach has been tested on the Arroscia catchment (Italy) where 27 weir sections have been examined thus resulting into 640 evaluated mini hydropower plant alternatives. Hydropower potential results indicate that in 14 over 27 sub-catchments it is possible to select at least a specific powerhouse location where the investment is affordable. The determination of MHP indexes in a simplified framework overcomes the typical problem due to the single prediction of hydropower potential for a specific plant configuration. The comprehensive MHP analysis allows to supports the energy management strategies while ensuring the sustainable water resource management at the catchment scale.


Flow duration curve GIS Optimal design Plant capacity Run-of-river plant Small hydropower 



The study was funded within the project “Preliminary study to assess mini hydropower potential in the regional territory” of the Regional Operational Program, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund 2007–2013 (POR-FESR Liguria/7/43-12/07/2011).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Palla
    • 1
  • I. Gnecco
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. La Barbera
    • 1
  • M. Ivaldi
    • 2
  • D. Caviglia
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of GenovaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.ITEC Engineering S.r.l.GenoaItaly
  3. 3.GIS&WEB S.r.l.GenoaItaly

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