Ecological construction of small hydroelectric power plants
Topic of the practice
Production of clean energy in compliance with ecological requirements
Good Practice Information
Hydroelectricity is a renewable and non-polluting energy source that does not create greenhouse gas emissions or toxic waste, but that faces unique environmental challenges. The main problems caused by micro-hydro power plants are the ecological impact of the diverted water flow and the need to maintain a sufficient flow in the natural riverbed, negative visual impact of the water intake, dam and powerhouse, damage to fish, and the impact of a construction phase when temporary dams may be required. There is also the risk of disturbing the sediments on the riverbed or deposition of construction materials in the water. In Maramures most of the micro-hydro power plants are constructed without accumulation of the water behind a dam and this significantly reduces the impact on the environment. The catchments consist of a concrete structure which captures the water through a Tyrol intake and diverts the water towards the compensation reservoirs through a sand separator and clearing system guaranteeing a minimum vital water flow. Fish ladders are also provided to ensure safe passage of the fish.
Evidence of success
The main risks associated with the construction of hydro power installations that concern the local ecological balance are removed through the sound ecological method of construction employed in Maramures. The hydropower plants all have fish passages that provide minimum ecological flow.
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