The fish-friendly turbine is a technology that provides a safe approach for fish passing though hydraulic turbines by minimizing their risk of injury or death.
Many species of fish need to migrate upstream and downstream of hydro facilities to complete life cycle activities such as feeding and spawning. However, dams built on rivers and reservoirs for hydro power generation typically hamper fish in these migrations. Migration devices such as fish bypass and fish ladders systems are utilized to help some fish pass around hydro dams, but many others, especially juveniles, still get drawn into turbines and passed through complex turbine components. The rapid changes in physical geometry and flow in these components present many hazards and pose high risk for injury and mortality for these fish.
It was not until the mid 1990s that the global hydro industry started to undertake extensive R&D in the area of fish-friendly turbines and at that time the associated activities primarily focused on understanding the causes of injury and the biological criteria for fish-friendly turbine designs.
Between 2003 and 2010, CanmetENERGY collaborated with Canadian companies, universities and international partners to advance fish-friendly turbine technologies through the development of three different turbines for small hydro applications. These applications include sites with electrical generating capacity of less than 1MW, and a head between 1.5 – 15 m.
Our contributions included financial support for product design and development, prototyping, laboratory tests, as well as technical support and expertise in hydrodynamics and computer flow simulation to ensure that the turbines met the fish-friendly design criteria.
The first of the three fish-friendly turbines (400 kW) has been operational in France since 2007, and on-site testing has shown excellent energy performance and fish-friendliness.
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