For more than a century, the Swiss energy industry has relied on hydropower to provide the largest share of electricity. During this long period, hydraulic power plant components have been continuously improved. Today, the optimum in efficiency has practically been reached in nominal operation. This is reason enough to shift energy engineering research activities to less mature technologies. For example, one looks in vain for the term "hydropower" in the program of ETH Zurich's Energy Week, which took place in Zurich from December 5 to 11, 2022. There, net-zero energy scenarios are discussed, the role of buildings is examined, sector coupling is touted as a key element of the energy transition, and the operation of a secure grid infrastructure is presented. These are undoubtedly important topics. But hydropower should not be left out entirely, because there are still unanswered questions. It is important to explore how its role is changing in the transition to a more sustainable energy system and what adjustments are needed to ensure that it reliably fulfills its new role. These questions are particularly important in Europe, where hydropower potential is nearly exhausted and where proven plants are occasionally updated with retrofits. This is because, as a key element, hydropower, especially pumped storage plants, will also have to adapt their operations due to the growing share of fluctuating renewable power sources - and will thus face new challenges. Instead of pumping once a day with nuclear power at night, pumped storage power plants are likely to be activated several times a day in summer, for example, in order to make good use of surplus solar power. An operation for which the pump turbines were not originally designed.
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