Most of the hydropower dams in Sweden were built before 1980. The present dam-safety guidelines have resulted in higher design floods than their spillway discharge capacity and the need for structural upgrades. This has led to renewed laboratory model tests. For some dams, even computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations are performed. This provides the possibility to compare the spillway discharge data between the model tests performed a few decades apart. The paper presents the hydropower development, the needs for the ongoing dam rehabilitations and the history of physical hydraulic modeling in Sweden. More than 20 spillways, both surface and bottom types, are analyzed to evaluate their discharge modeling accuracy. The past and present model tests are compared with each other and with the CFD results if available. Discrepancies do exist in the discharges between the model tests made a few decades apart. The differences fall within the range −8.3%–+11.2%. The reasons for the discrepancies are sought from several aspects. The primary source of the errors is seemingly the model construction quality and flow measurement method. The machine milling technique and 3D printing reduce the source of construction errors and improve the model quality. Results of the CFD simulations differ, at the maximum, by 3.8% from the physical tests. They are conducted without knowledge of the physical model results in advance. Following the best practice guidelines, CFD should generate results of decent accuracy for discharge prediction.
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