In detail

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What are run-of-river power plants? Definition:

A run-of-river power plant is a technical facility used for power generation, which is operated by means of continuously flowing water in rivers or large streams. The construction of a run-of-river power plant is only worthwhile in places where the water flow and the flow speed of the water are high enough. Run-of-river power stations are considered to be extremely efficient in generating energy. However, the construction of such facilities is associated with a significant change in the environment.

Operation of a run-of-river power plant

The operation of a run-of-river power plant is similar to that of a normal hydroelectric plant. The water flows on the upstream side into the system and is forwarded there in a so-called Kaplan turbine. The flow of water drives the turbine and uses a generator to generate electricity. The water flows out again on the downstream side of the power plant. Since the water of a river flows continuously, the current can be generated basically without interruptions. Only maintenance occasionally leads to a temporary suspension of energy. However, seasonal variations in water levels, such as those caused by meltwater after winter, affect the amount of energy generated. In spring and summer, electricity generation is therefore much higher than in winter.

Consequences for the environment


Power plants built on rivers and streams are associated with significant negative impacts on the ecosystem. In particular, outdated facilities often lead to a mass extinction of fish that get caught in the turbines and die or are hindered in their migrations. In addition, the dynamics of the river in terms of water transport of nutrients and important for the flora and fauna materials is disturbed. Modern run-of-river power plants, which work with free-floating power tuyeres, are considered to be much more environmentally friendly. In the construction of new facilities is now increasingly respected not to disturb the migration of fish through facilities such as fish ladders or fish lifts.