Maintenance and upkeep
of hydroelectric plants

Relationship between man, mountain and technology

Foaming waterfalls, cool Alpine streams, impetuous rivers: water resources don’t just contribute to the natural beauty of the South Tyrol Alpine region: they are also an important economic factor. Since the end of the Nineteenth century, hydroelectric energy has been the backbone of energy procurement in South Tyrol. With 29 large plants, almost 1000 small and medium sized-plants, and a production well in excess of 6000 Gigawatt/hour per year, the “green region” can cover its own energy needs entirely with renewable sources, and even exceed them during the summer months. The know-how developed from this extensive experience with the so-called “white gold” makes South Tyrol the competence centre for hydroelectric energy in the Alpine region, and makes it a meeting point for international experts in the field.

Good Practice: the sediment issue

Sediment is an important and natural part of Alpine water. However, in hydroelectric basins, the natural process of sediment flow is interrupted: sediments deposit on the bottom of the hydroelectric basin, and weigh on the structure. The capacity of the reservoir decreases and electricity production decreases. Knowledge of suspended sediment transport is relevant in the fields of river engineering, water resources management, climate change management, agriculture and ecology.

The know-how behind the project
Managing sediment according to traditional methods, like purging the reservoirs, has serious repercussions in ecological terms. Due to the high installation costs for the manager, classical dredging systems are not economically viable, especially for low-volume extractions.
The technology
During maintenance and upkeep work, it is particularly important for the value creation process to continue as far as possible undisturbed. That is why a modular plant has been developed, which makes it possible to selectively dig up the purge valves or entry channels, but even ample offloading work in the reservoirs. In this way, the manager’s costs are reduced compared to traditional methods, and the controlled return of sediment to the river can be considered safe for the ecosystem

The experts in our network:

  • Hydro Safety
  • Idroservice Italia
  • Teso
  • Alperia Greenpower
  • Cartorender
  • Free University of Bolzano

The innoalptec project (FESR1060) is financed by the European Union and by the European regional development fund