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Powering existing dams and weirs with a small turbine-generator

How easily can we turn a water infrastructure into a hydropower plant? Retrofitting hydropower on existing dams and weirs is a great way to increase renewable energy generation, but this upgrade is not always simple: it requires the installation of a turbine, a generator that converts mechanical energy into electricity, and usually some construction work on the existing infrastructure.

Voith’s all-in-one StreamDiver bulb-type turbine-generator is the manufacturer’s latest answer to the challenges faced by owners who are looking for a straightforward way to power their water infrastructure. In the United States alone, only 3 percent of the 80,000 dams are equipped with the means to produce electricity, which gives an idea of the potential market for such an upgrade.

Side view of a StreamDiver unit installed on a water infrastructure (credit: Voith)

Provided that the change in water levels between the intake and discharge points is suitable for the equipment, a single StreamDiver unit can provide between 100kW and 1,450kW of installed electricity capacity, enough to provide power to 1,200 people for a year in the US – and much more in other parts of the world (1). This flexibility arises from the system’s modular approach: different sizes allow the equipment to adapt to the geographical and technical constraints of the site.

Since the installation of the first prototype in Nussdorf, Austria in 2012 (450kW), StreamDiver has been exported to all continents and used in a variety of projects. Six turbines are planned to be installed in Serayu, Indonesia (4,500kW), one turbine in Bela Visa, Brazil (488kW) and ten turbines in South Bend, Indiana (2,500kW), where the installation will help the University of Notre Dame eliminate the use of coal and cut its carbon footprint by more than half by 2030.

The StreamDiver was designed to keep constructional effort and peripheral equipment to a minimum. The submerged power unit is virtually invisible, with no noise impact and is operated totally oil- and grease-free. This allows the power plant to have a very low visual impact in its environment.

Innovation overview

  • Low-head modular bulb-type turbine-generator unit
  • Range: 2-8m head (up to 16 meters in development)
  • Installed capacity: 150kW-1,500kW per unit
  • Low investment cost for civil works
  • Over 30 installations around the world
  • Submerged installation, 100% oil-and grease-free operation
  • One-day installation

Meet the experts

Meet the experts behind this innovation at the World Hydropower Congress, from 7-24 September 2021. Register for free today and connect with hundreds of specialists and professionals online.

Albin Atzmüller

Albin Atzmüller

Product Owner StreamDiver (Voith)

Albin Atzmüller is working with Voith Hydro in Austria as Product Owner and guides customers in developing projects using the StreamDiver technology. Albin helps optimise small hydropower plant projects of all kinds with the modular StreamDiver. This includes creating concepts for installation and integrating units into existing or new structures, and linking projects to power systems. He has successfully developed projects in Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe.

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