Hydropower makes a substantial contribution to energy supply. With an innovative high-performance steel waterwheel technology, we are helping to tap currently unexploited potentials.
On a global scale, with a share of some 15% of overall power generation, hydropower is the most important energy source after the classic conventional energies. This is also due to the fact that hydropower has a long history, and many technologies in this area have been thoroughly researched. Accordingly, many of the technical possibilities have been put into practice by now. In Germany, for example, some 66.9% of the technical potential of hydropower is already being exploited.
Nevertheless, there has until now existed a serious drawback in hydropower technology: the economic operation of hydropower plants with low heads and high river water flow rates has been virtually impossible. The low hydrostatic pressure rules out the use of turbines, while classic waterwheels are unable to cope with higher flow rates due to their low intake capacity.
This leaves a huge untapped potential, given the many such locations in the European Union alone. If this latent capacity were utilized, hydropower's contribution as a source of energy would surge. Based on an output of 1,300 GW it would provide an additional 5,000 TWh of energy per year worldwide.
Salzgitter Mannesmann Renewables working together with the Technical University (TU) of Braunschweig is determined to make this vast potential available for future use. At the Salzgitter research hydropower plant in Bannetze-Hornbostel, a joint project with TU Braunschweig, a new and worldwide unique technology is being investigated, tested and further refined. Developed at TU Braunschweig on the basis of high-performance steel waterwheels, the new technology could be implemented on a large scale in hydropower plants for base load power generation and for grid stabilization while taking into account specific ecological constraints.