Since time immemorial its path has been lined with villages and towns. In recent decades, electricity production from hydropower has been given a growing importance and led to many artificial interventions in the body of water. However, it’s not only people who use the river: the Danube is also an important lifeline for the wildlife of Central Europe, and is often the only area of refuge for rare creatures. Thus, several sections of the river have been placed under a conservation order so as to limit man’s impact and to give both the flora and fauna more room.
Today, the diverse utilisation of the Danube represents a growing importance for man: On the one hand we wish to intelligently and cleanly assuage the hunger for energy of our modern lifestyle whilst, on the other, we wish to keep interventions in nature to a minimum in order to guarantee the natural beauty of the fluvial landscape for coming generations.
The Danube, the second largest river in Europe, is the largest energy source for VERBUND’s hydropower plants in Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Vienna. It supplies enormous quantities of environmentally friendly electricity from renewable hydropower.
The Danube covers the basic electricity requirement
In our Danube power plants, such as Melk or Ybbs-Persenbeug, the turbines are powered by the continuously flowing river. The so-called run-of-river power plants cover the basic electricity requirement. They are unable to store the water, but rather are dependant upon the quantity of water flowing in. Fundamentally, water quantity and drop height determine the energy yield of a run-of-river power plant. If too little or too much water flows in the Danube, all - or most - of the turbines remain at a standstill.
Lifeline, waterway, ecosystem and recreational zone
The Danube is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people, serves as a waterway for shipping and, with its banks and backcountry, forms a unique ecosystem. Many local inhabitants and tourists spend their leisure time here. It is for this reason that VERBUND is increasingly investing in the environment in the Danube region. In the past years we have thus constructed many new biotopes, preserving the biodiversity. In the coming years we will establish further fish ladders in order to make the power plants passable for fish, as is the case in Melk. Incidentally, we haul vast quantities of flotsam and rubbish from the water at the river power plants – alone in Lower Austria this amounts to some 3,000 tonnes annually, originating from tree trunks and plastic bottles right through to car wreckage.
Experience and understand nature and technology
The better we understand the links between human needs and those of nature, the easier it will be for us to take responsibility for the interests of both. Therefore, after a visit to one of our Danube power plants, take the opportunity to make a detour in the surrounding area and become acquainted with the wildlife.
The Ybbs power plant stands on the doorstep of the World Heritage Site of Wachau, through which the Danube meanders in large loops past hills and vineyards. The Freudenau power plant in the east of Vienna extends an invitation to an onward journey, by bike or car, to the Donau-Auen (Danube Wetlands) National Park, where exciting tours of discovery in the medieval wetlands are on the programme in summer and winter alike.