Just in time for Danube Day, the international day in celebration of River Danube, VERBUND, Wien Energie and EVN are beginning with the test of a new, innovative type of turbine in the Danube power plant of Nussdorf. In addition to technical and ecological advantages for smaller plants, this development by the Austrian company Kössler offers the major opportunity to open up new and hitherto undevelopable hydropower sites.
It is intended that StreamDiver© will highlight new ways for smaller hydropower plant sites by being smaller, lighter, more efficient, less maintenance and more environmentally friendly. The new turbine type has been developed as part of a 1.2 million Euro research and development project by Kössler GmbH, together with VERBUND, Wien Energie GmbH, EVN, and Grenzkraftwerke GmbH. The project is being supported by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency.
The construction principle is simple and yet cleverly conceived. A rigid propeller turbine coupled directly with a generator saves space and reduces the technical complexity – and therewith minimises sources of error and maintenance costs as well. The modular construction facilitates the installation in the existing plant and the optimised planning of new hydropower plants. In addition to cost reduction, the focus in the development of StreamDiver© was also on ecological improvements. The bearings are smeared with river water and the operation of the compact turbine is thus carried out entirely without oil. High-maintenance sealing systems are dispensed with, since the turbine generator strand is completely filled with water.
On account of this advantage, it is intended that StreamDiver© will also enable the economic production of electricity from hydropower at those sites in which only shallow drop heights and low quantities of usable water are available.
The energy turnaround with hydropower
If the energy turnaround is to be a success, the expansion of renewable energies cannot be avoided. The optimisation and expansion of hydropower has an important role to play here. With turbines in the calibre of StreamDiver©, it is intended that low gradient sections, residual water and weir power plants will in future make an even greater contribution to the production of electricity from hydropower. According to cautious estimates, the potential of such plants lies at several hundred gigawatt hours in Austria alone and therewith corresponds to the electricity requirement of more than 100,000 households.
Flowing water at the turbines
However, before things reach this stage, the StreamDiver© prototype must prove itself with an output of 446 kilowatt in continuous operation. In addition, one of the existing weir turbines from the joint venture power plant of Nussdorf on the Danube canal will be replaced by a prototype and comprehensive test runs conducted under real operating conditions.