Kirchdorfer builds the highest fish ladder in Europe

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published 10/2019

With 90 megawatts, the VERBUND power plant “Annabrücke” is the most powerful Drau power plant in Carinthia. The necessary fish ladder will now also be retrofitted by spring 2020: With a total height difference of 26 meters, the Kirchdorfer Group supplies the highest fish ladder in Europe with the “enature® FISHPASS system”.

The Drau, which on its 220 kilometers through Carinthia has a gradient like a mountain stream, is a very productive river in terms of hydropower: the 10 Drau power plants together cover almost two thirds of Carinthia’s total electricity needs. Correspondingly high demands are also placed on the fish pass. At the Annabrücke power plant, aquatic organisms will soon – with the help of Kirchdorfer Concrete Solutions – will “effortlessly” swim through 172 pools in perfect flow conditions, thereby making a height difference of 26 meters on the 750-meter-long artificial route – a new Europe-wide record for such installations.

Sabine Käfer, the responsible project manager at VERBUND AG, also confirms that the fish actually do pass without effort through the enature® Fishpass system designed and produced by Kirchdorfer Concrete Solutions: “With a computer-aided monitoring system, we were able to monitor 140,000 fish migrations from 26 different species at the Schwabeck power plant register, from very small, weak-swimming fish to a catfish with a length of 1.36 meters.”

The record holder since 2015: Enature® Fishpass at the Schwabeck power station on the Drau. By 2020, an even larger installation at the Annabrücke power station will overcome 26 meters in altitude – the highest difference in all of Europe. Reprint free of charge with attribution: © Kirchdorfer

The fact that after Lavamünd, Edling, Schwabeck and Rosegg another one of the Drau power plants is equipped with enature® Fishpass also speaks to significant economical advantages: The hydraulically optimized sequence of offset slots reduces the water flow rate by up to 40% compared to conventional “vertical slot” “installations. This means that a larger proportion of water energy can be used to generate electricity.

Record installations on power plants

When the first EU guidelines for the conservation of the natural river continuum were adopted in the early 2000s, the engineers at Kirchdorfer Concrete Solutions knew that only a cleverly designed prefabricated system based on the Lego principle could best meet these requirements. Since the system was developed in cooperation with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, around 50 installations have already been delivered across Austria. The need for retrofitting is still high – around half of the roughly 100 hydropower plants are equipped with fish ladders. A particularly large number of installations can be seen at the power plants along the Drau in Carinthia, where the new project at the Annabrücke power plant is now closing one of the last gaps in terms of fish pass systems.

Hydropower installations along the Drau river in Carinthia Province. Source: www.verbund.at
3D-Visualisation
Reprint free of charge with attribution: © Kirchdorfer
Installation of the precast concrete elements
Reprint free of charge with attribution: © Kirchdorfer