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Sustainable power generation in aquaculture, wastewater treatment plant and sewerage system

A new research project of the Institute for Water and Energy Management at Hof University of Applied Sciences aims to promote the potential and use of hydropower in existing water plants. The project “Network for the Generation of Energy with Hydropower in Existing Water Facilities (NEEWa)”, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) with 417,000 euros, strengthens the transfer of knowledge from the Green-Tech University Hof to regional companies. It is also intended to contribute to the success of Hof as a center of competence for water and renewable energies in the region.

Hydropower plants can contribute to a sustainable power supply; image: pixabay;

“Everywhere you see water flowing, you also see the power of water. Not using it means wasting potential,” says Dr. Harvey Harbach from the Institute for Water and Energy Management (iwe) at Hof University of Applied Sciences, who came up with the idea for the research project. In the new project, a total of 5 scientists from the iwe are now working on sustainable power generation in existing water plants.

Project manager Prof. Manuela Wimmer points out

We work alone with water, which is to be used after a first use additionally still for the generation of current. Specifically, we are looking at water that has been used in aquacultures for fish farming, that is recycled into drinking water in wastewater treatment plants, or simply industrial water that flows through household sewage systems.

Prof. Dr. Manuela Wimmer, Project Manager

In all these cases, the water flows solely driven by gravity. Electricity can be generated in this way – through the use of turbines or water wheels – without affecting ecosystems. One possible application example: “In our region, for traditional aquaculture, water is directed through ponds in which fish grow. For this purpose, the young fish are often brought forward in a hatchery so that they are better prepared for the environmental conditions outside the hatchery due to a certain size. In the hatchery, therefore, electricity is needed for pumps, among other things. The idea is therefore to produce this required electricity on site with sustainable methods. Hydropower, which can provide energy 24 hours a day, is therefore ideally suited for this purpose,” says Dr. Harbach.

Cooperation in the network

In our region, there are numerous areas of expertise in the form of specialized companies, state offices, authorities and educational institutions such as the university. “Only in exchange and joint dialogue can we find the best solutions for sustainable energy production 4.0” says Dr. Harvey Harbach. In addition to the technical coordination of the project, Hof University of Applied Sciences also takes an independent position in the network. The university pursues no financial interests and offers thereby a scientifically neutral network activity around water power on cost-benefit calculation of a broader use to lead. The aim of the project is to bring together the entire value chain in the network under the aspect of knowledge transfer. Through the establishment of the network, the participants will be further educated regarding the opportunities and possibilities. The regular exchange is intended to promote the use and further development of existing and new technologies for the use of hydropower.

Hydropower as a contribution to climate neutrality

With the Green Deal, the European Union has set itself the goal of being climate neutral by 2050, i.e. net greenhouse gas emissions must be completely avoided. This goal can only be achieved if the share of renewable energies in final energy consumption is increased. This share is to grow to 32% by 2030. These targets are implemented at the national level with the Climate Protection Program 2030. Hydropower represents another option for decentralized electricity generation from wind power, solar energy and biomass. Hydropower is characterized by low production costs and 100% clean and base-load energy from power plants driven purely by differences in altitude. The biggest challenge, however, is the ecological compatibility of the power plants. “Hydroelectric power plants, no matter what size, must in no case lead to a threat to the flora and fauna of the riverbed. For this reason, no new constructions are considered in this project, but only existing hydro plants,” says Prof. Dr. Wimmer.

Entire institute works together

The iwe bundles competencies in the field of water and energy. “I am immensely pleased that both competencies are being brought together in this project,” says institute director Prof. Dr. Tobias Plessing. Hof University of Applied Sciences works together in numerous areas of applied green tech research.

For more information on the project, visit www.hof-university.de

Dr. Harvey Harbach
Rainer Krauß

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