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development of hydro power converter for very low head differences

The Hylow Project

... is a research project which has the aim to develop novel hydropower converters for very low head differences / pressure differences. It is funded under the European Commission’s Framework 7 Programme.

Hydropower is the oldest artificial power source known to man; it was already employed in antiquity; the Roman architect Vitruvius describes a water wheel driven by a current. In the Middle Ages and during the industrial revolution hydropower was employed on a large scale, with 25 to 30000 water wheels reported in England alone in 1850. The main hydropower machine employed then was the water wheel; this meant that individual installations had – in today’s assessment – very small power outputs ranging from 1.5 to (occasionally) 50 kW. 

unused hydro power: a river weir

With the development of turbines in the 19th century serious hydropower exploitation started, with the construction of large dams and river power stations. Today, most of the hydropower potential in Europe is developed; there are only three segments of hydropower which are still unused:

(1) Hydropower with very low head differences between 0.5 and 2.5 m
(2) The energy of currents (river or tidal currents)
(3) Small pressure differences in pipelines (< 25 – 30 kPa)

It is estimated that in Germany alone, hydropower potential of 500 MW with head differences below 2m exists, which cannot be exploited for the lack of a cost-effective and ecologically acceptabel converter technology.

The project has 10 partners from five countries of the European Union.

The project HYLOW has the following aims:

1.    To develop and prove cost-effective and ecologically acceptable energy converters for very low head differences (0.5 to 2.5 m) with power ratings from 50 to 750 kW.

2.    To develop a free stream energy converter for river and tidal currents with velocities from 1 to 2 m/s, and power ratings of 5 to 500 kW.

3.    The development of an energy converter to utilise low pressure differences in pipe systems.

Finding a solution for problems which have eluded scientists and inventors for a long number of years is not easy. The project HYLOW has been structured into a series of activities in order to address this problem. [...]


HYLOW Project - FP7-Energy-2007-1-RTD  project number: 212423

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