Do hy­dro­elec­tric tur­bines harm fish?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Q&A - Amy-Jane Beer

AS­mall scale hy­dro­elec­tric­ity projects have been spring­ing up all over Bri­tain in the past decade as a means of har­ness­ing clean en­ergy from lo­cal rivers. Eight years ago, the weir next to the ru­ined wa­ter mill at How­sham on my lo­cal river, the York­shire Der­went, be­came the first site in the coun­try to house an Archimedean screw tur­bine. The screw lies in a trough half in, half out of the wa­ter and ro­tates rather slowly as grav­ity pulls the wa­ter down the drop. The tech­nol­ogy is ex­cep­tion­ally fish-friendly – far from hel­ter-skel­ter­ing around the screw as some vis­i­tors imag­ine, the fish (and other wa­ter­borne ob­jects) drop gently through the thread as it turns above them and emerge at the bot­tom, un­scathed and ar­guably safer than they would be run­ning the weir it­self. The same can’t be said for de­vices with fast­spin­ning blades, which re­quire mesh screens to pre­vent fish from be­ing drawn in, adding to set-up and main­te­nance costs as the screens con­stantly clog with de­bris.

The Archimedean screw tur­bine is fish-friendly.

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