The winner was honoured within the framework of the VERBUND research forum for the development of an innovative gate (sluice) with which the hydrodynamic forces, and along with it the lifting power of the gate, are reduced by up to 90 percent. The prize is awarded annually for especially innovative scientific work by young students and is endowed with 12,000 euros.
Dr. Gustav Resch of the Technical University of Vienna’s institute for electrical systems and the energy industry took second place with the development of software the helps in decision making when choosing, or alternatively designing the optimum promotional strategies for renewable energies in Europe. Third place went to Michael Kolb, Gerhard Sperr, and Stefan Weiß, graduates of HTBLA in Salzburg for a dissertation on the revitalisation of a small hydropower station in which a helical-flow turbine supplies power to the grid by means of an asynchronous generator instead of a waterwheel.
In their presentations at the VERBUND research forum, graduate engineer Hans Haider, General Director of VERBUND and Dr. Herbert Schröfelbauer, Chairman of the Board of VERBUND-Austrian Hydro Power AG (AHP) forcefully emphasised the high importance of hydropower for Europe and in particular for Austria’s energy supply. In view of the stronger than forecasted increase in power consumption in all of Europe, which makes it necessary to build 1,000 power stations in the next 20 years with a total capacity of 600 gigawatts, it is also a necessity to make a considerable push to further expand the existing hydropower resources for reasons of the sustainable use of raw materials and the reduction of the rate of CO2 production. “The very long planning and investment horizons, however, are certainly still a hindrance in the implementation of new projects" - the VERBUND General Director once again calls for better general conditions for further expansion of hydropower in Austria. At VERBUND, there are currently projects with a potential of up to 900 GWh in the run-of-river power station sector, approximately 1,500 MW in the turbine and 1,300 MW in the pump sectors, which are in the planning or implementation phases.
According to AHP CEO Schröfelbauer, the hydropower potential in Austria that is worth expanding is 56,200 gigawatt hours (GWh) and to date, has been expanded by 71 percent. This leaves room for other construction projects, the realisation of which, however, will not suffice to completely cover the additional power consumption that has been forecasted for the year 2010.
Worldwide, currently around 2,700 terawatt hours (TWh) of power are generated with hydropower, which corresponds to 16.7 percent of electricity production. The technically usable potential, according to an estimate by Richard Pinnock, CEO of the energy business group of the Jaaakko-Pöyry Engineering Group, is 14,200 TWh. “If we clearly see that worldwide, there are currently hydropower projects under construction with a total capacity of 88 GW, they we can certainly talk of a renaissance of this efficient and sustainable form of energy production."