SWEDEN Owners of small-scale hydro power plants which have to be upgraded over the next few years are facing major challenges. In order to comply with current environmental requirements, old technology must be replaced with new. To identify solutions for the future, Vattenfall is therefore taking part in a Swedish research project together with, amongst others, a number of other power companies and two universities.

The research project, which aims to develop a new type of small-scale hydro power plant with good environmental performance, was launched by Sweden's Minister for Rural Affairs, Sven-Erik Bucht, on Friday 12 June.

The project aims at finding solutions to use the technology to upgrade existing power stations but also to utilise energy in dams which don't generate hydro power at the moment.

Compact solution
Vattenfall, together with a number of other power companies, Luleå University of Technology and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Umeå, is taking part in the project, which involves the testing of new technology at Bruksfors power station in the Rickleån River in the province of Västerbotten.

Tord Eriksson, Head of Facilities at Vattenfall Vattenkraft explains "The turbine in Bruksfors is water cooled, so it doesn't require oil or grease like conventional turbines. The design is such that turbine and generator are combined in a compact solution which offers new opportunities for smolt migration."

Reduced environmental impact
It is this combination of a cost-effective, compact universal solution for the plant and, at the same time, an improvement in environmental performance that makes the research project attractive to Vattenfall.

"The forthcoming biodiversity requirements will be particularly difficult for the small-scale plants. This state-of-the-art technology will reduce the impact on the environment at the same time as making the plant cheaper," says Eriksson, who also emphasises the significance of the breadth of the project.

"It's great that we power generators are working together on developing this and that we're also working with the county administrative board for Norrbotten and Västerbotten, which is part of the reference group for the project."

Guides fish over
The research project will run until 2020, and although it was only officially launched very recently, the modified installation at Bruksfors power station was commissioned back in December 2014.

"We can't say much more at the moment other than that it is in operation. It's not yet the season for downstream migrating fish, so we don't know how the solution of having the turbine located in the existing spillway to guide smolt over the plant will work," explains Tord Eriksson.

Vattenfall's hydro power plants

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