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Objectives / concepts

The Hydropower research programme comprises five main areas of focus, which are sub-divided into the following priority areas (each of which applies to both small-scale and large-scale hydropower plants):

Building technology

Large-scale hydropower

  • Modifications of existing tunnel systems and pipelines to accommodate stresses resulting from rapid and frequent load changes
  • Building concepts for mitigating hydropeaking

Small-scale hydropower

  • Small-scale power stations without a turbine hall, e.g. open low-pressure machines; underwater plant, open-air plant, systems with minimum civil-engineering disruption
  • required diameter of pipelines in water supply systems that are to be used for energy production (within the scope of pipeline renovation) 

Materials, components, technology, operation

Large-scale hydropower

  • Modifications to accommodate altered operating concepts in the combined European grid
  • Pump turbines with frequent change of the operating mode

Small-scale hydropower

  • Optimised turbine concepts: standard designs, simple designs, methods for closed systems (drinking-water and industrial plant), improved ultra-low-pressure plant
  • very small-scale variable-speed power stations
  • raising efficiency of components for very small-scale power stations
  • new components such as maintenance-free actuators, fail-safe sensors
  • methods and standards for operating optimisation and remote operation, integrated control systems
  • maintenance-free grills and cleansers
  • methods to prevent water hammer

Economic efficiency, potential, climatic effects

Large-scale hydropower

  • Changes in production and time schedule for run-of-river and pumped storage power stations necessitated by climate change
  • Long-term modifications to the operating mode of pumped storage power stations
  • Building measures for power station plant to facilitate changes in the operating mode
  • Planning of power station plant to accommodate uncertainties (hydrology, energy prices, etc.)
  • Concession renewal and modernisation potential: power increase and production losses resulting from the Water Protection Act
  • New financial models for pumped storage power stations

Small-scale hydropower

  • influence of climate change on annual production (based on potential studies)
  • energy exploitation potential of water supply systems
  • economic efficiency, fields of application and potential of small-scale decentralised pumped storage power stations
  • risk assessment and financial models


Large-scale hydropower

  • Mitigation of the conflicts between hydropower and water ecology / landscape protection, concerning
    • Optimal local residual water flow arrangements
    • hydropeaking, simulation of the effects and improvement measures
    • fish ladders, fish repelling plant, fish-friendly turbines
    • debris diversion
  • new, especially environment-friendly components
  • marketing of green power and financial incentives for ecological improvements

Small-scale hydropower

  • small-scale hydro power stations having an ecological advantage, or that are damage-free (special case studies)

Research infrastructure, networks

Interdisciplinary networks are required for many of the research topics cited above, and they also need to be internationally oriented. Additional activities of this sort can be promoted, but only in association with specific research projects (including those financed from other sources):

  • Development of research infrastructure networks.
  • Support for international co-operation.
  • Knowledge transfer.
  • Transfer to the market.
  • Support for basic research in order to promote the development of a future generation of scientists

Related documents

Reports on Hydropower research programme
Concept on Hydropower research programme
Federal government energy research concept
Contact: Klaus Jorde
Last update: 14.10.2014

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