Currently, many hydropower companies have limited knowledge of the condition of their rock infrastructure and facilities. Between 1940 and 1970, Swedish hydropower expanded at a very high rate. Many plants were built with tunnels that conduct water through rock. The lifetime of these tunnels is assumed to be between 50 and 100 years and consequently a large percentage have already fulfilled their service life. This infrastructure has been taken for granted for many years, and limited resources have been spent on maintenance and management.
When hydropower plants age, inspection, measures and major R&D efforts are needed to solve various problems, such as inspection of the water-filled tunnels. The program features such issues, but there is also a need to look at questions surrounding foundations, environmentally hazardous substances and ventilation in underground plants.
In addition to solving these infrastructural problems, there is also a need for rock engineering experts within the hydropower industry. This is currently particularly important as many hydropower plant owners require new knowledge concerning the inspection of facilities and how maintenance can be carried out cost-effectively.