SJE Ecohydraulic Engineering – Mitigating the impact of hydropower in Shakimardan, Uzbekistan

The ecological sustainability of hydropower is one of the key aspects within Hydro4U. Lessons learned in Europe but also other parts of the world show that impacts of hydropower have caused a severe reduction of riverine fish in number and diversity. For instance, through hindering migration, changing the flow regime by lowering the base flows, generating fast artificial flow changes, or disturbing natural habitat structures.


At the demonstration site Shakimardan, Uzbekistan, the impacts of hydropower development on the river Koksu have been studied by SJE in cooperation with local experts such as the Central Asian partner TIIAME and European partners like BOKU and EVINBO. These results have been considered in the planning of the hydropower plant in collaboration with the project partners KJ Consult and TUM Munich.


A new cell phone-based mapping tool designed by SJE has been applied to collect habitat information along the affected, more than 3 km long section of the river Koksu and to integrate it into a GIS. Habitat information for the target species snow trout (Schizothorax eurystomus), has been jointly collected via E-Fishing by BOKU and TIIAME. This information has been used for simulations performed with the SJE-owned software CASiMiR ( for various river flows to find a seasonally adapted E-Flow that protects the local fish population.


The existing diversion weir and intake structure are modernised and equipped with a state-of-the-art fish way respectively a bypass installation that enable up- and downstream migration for snow trout. A migration barrier within the diverted river section is made passable by building a fishway adapted to the local lack of space. Currently, a telemetry study is performed by TIIAME and EVINBO using fish tagging with passive integrated transponders and the mapping tool, to find out about the migration movements of snow trout. The gained insights will feed into the adaptive management of the future Hydro Power Plant.




Author: Matthias Schneider, SJE Ecohydraulic Engineering GmbH

Photos and figures by Matthias Schneider and Tobias Hägele, SJE GmbH

Behind the scenes of European project cooperation: How does innovation management work?

The European Commission funds project consortia with the aim of promoting Europe’s innovative strength and bringing innovations more quickly to the European market and establishing them sustainably. As an expert in innovation management, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum works as a catalyst for the European Commission and project consortia.


Within the application stage, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum already acts as enabler and, if desired, also as project partner by accompanying the development of solutions and innovations on the way to a successful market launch. Together with the partners, our systematic approach enables the development of solid exploitation strategies, action plans and business models for commercially exploitable project results. In this context, intellectual property management plays an important role: through purpose-driven knowledge transfer and solution-oriented exchange, partners are enabled to adequately protect their project results for later exploitation.

The challenge lies mainly in the complexity of the different expectations and goals of the individual project partners, since the number of European and international partners in EU projects can range between 10 to 40.



Innovation management in Hydro4U

Small-scale hydropower is not extensively exploited in Central Asia despite considerable potential to satisfy unmet electricity demand and chart a new way forward in cooperative cross-sectoral management of shared waters.

Hydro4U will offer innovative, modular and standardised hydropower solutions for both low-head and medium-head application. In addition to direct market access for the participating project partners, Hydro4U will facilitate market access for European hydropower manufacturers and service providers in Central Asia as a whole.



Steinbeis Europa Zentrum accompanies innovation processes

Starting from the very beginning with the project conception phase, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum supported the coordinating Technical University of Munich, together with the 11 other European and international partners and accompanied them through the application process.



Target Group perspective and expectations

In Hydro4U, partners from both Central Asia and the European Union are working together on project implementation to contribute to sustainable and environmentally friendly energy production for Central Asia through scientifically supported activities and the testing of technological solutions. Close cooperation between all stakeholders and investors involved is an essential aspect of Hydro4U. The different expertise of the partners (including industry, science, politics) leads to diverse perspectives on the interrelationships between ecology, technology and society, which have to be taken into account in innovation management, especially in exploitation strategies.



Innovation management and exploitation

Steinbeis Europa Zentrum, as partner in Hydro4U responsible for exploitation, is meanwhile working systematically with the project partners to describe the innovative project results in terms of content, to define the exploitation intentions as well as to clarify ownership and access rights. The project partners, through their different expertise, co-develop very good approaches to solutions for the common challenges. Steinbeis Europa Zentrum for instance, organised interactive pitching sessions on individual project results. In a pitch, each of the participating partner organisation had presented its favoured project outcome and the associated challenges to the consortium. Through the resulting feedback from different perspectives as well as through the targeted exchange, further synergies between the partners could be established. Overall, these pitching sessions received very positive feedback and resonance from the partners.


This collaborative approach is consistently promoted and encouraged by Steinbeis Europa Zentrum. The most promising project results are selected in the course of the project and, in a next step, small working groups will then elaborate different aspects, for instance the Central Asian framework conditions for market entry and adequate business models. Furthermore, future steps and responsibilities for a successful and effective utilisation of the project results are also determined within these groups.


With the involvement of Steinbeis Europa Zentrum, a clear demarcation and description of the jointly developed project results is ensured, which further enables the clarification of the Intellectual Property situation including the access rights as well as responsibilities for further exploitation steps. In addition, the development of an exploitation strategy is secured as well as the results of joint partner contributions. This also extends to market analysis from different perspectives. Moreover, with Steinbeis involvement in the project, participatory approaches are further established in Central Asia as well as future steps and responsibilities for successful exploitation of the project results.




Author: Isabelle Dubreuilh, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum

Picture Credits: Bertalan Alapfy, Technische Universität München

4th Hydro4U Newsletter – January 2023

The fourth Hydro4U Newsletter has been published and sent out to our subscribers on the 25.01.2023. This month’s special topic is dedicated to the Hydro4U Summer School and its third round in 2023, where participating students again get the opportunity to obtain regional and cultural knowledge about Kyrgyzstan.


The whole newsletter edition is available here: Hydro4U Newsletter #4 – January 2023


Don’t miss out on future editions and subscribe here.

Muhr Group relies on scalable approach for the new hydroshaft power plant

During the last 12 months, the Muhr Group worked on the scalable design approach for the new hydroshaft power plant. Now they finalised all the relevant steps and submitted the associated final report, the time was right for an interim summary.


The assessment is consistently positive: Very little time has passed between the first prototype design and an achievement of product readiness level. To have increased the marketability of the hydroshaft power plant to such an extent – and so early in the product’s life cycle – is a great success for Muhr. The level of marketability achieved is made possible through Muhr’s scalable design approach.




From Concept Study to CAD Model


The aim of the design work was to achieve a level of optimization that would allow to meet the ambitious goals of the Hydro4U project (funded under the Horizon 2020 research programme). Muhr started with concept studies, which were further developed into CAD models, based also on feasibility tests and FEM simulations. These 3D models are much more than three-dimensional technical drawings. They were designed in such a way that they can be used for cost calculation, procurement, and manufacturing of the planned power plants. The scalable approach allows power plants to be designed and implemented in less than a year.


All products were prepared for future use based on lessons learned from the operation of the first two commercial power plants. The first two power plants are also equipped by Muhr and successfully generate green energy for about 900 households.




The Muhr Group’s involvement in Hydro4U


The Muhr Group supplies the following products for the new plant type hydroshaft power plant:


  • Inlet and outlet stop log including frames, for damming up the power plant in case of maintenance work.
  • Control gate including downstream fish pass for regulating the dam height, allowing the turbine to produce power as efficiently as possible. The control gate also serves as a flushing opening for the passage of bedload in the river course, as a fish pass for fish and other aquatic creatures downstream of the power plant, and as an opening of the discharge cross-section in the event of a flood.
  • Shaft trash rack with cleaning bar for cleaning the turbine water (to protect the turbine) and the shaft trash rack, which ensures the efficiency of power generation.
  • Mounting frame with mounting points for shaft trash rack and control gate. These are pre-assembled at the factory, allowing for easy and quick installation on site. This results in a significant reduction in construction effort, construction time and construction costs.




Greater marketability through scalable approach


Hydro4U’s goal is to increase the marketability of the new type of power plant and to create an overall economic concept for shaft power plants. Muhr’s scalable approach meets this goal: The modular components are designed in such a way that they can be re-dimensioned for all future power plant designs. There is no need to design parts for individual projects, which results in considerable time and cost savings.

Supply chains and manufacturing plans are also created and improved to increase marketability. Muhr has solved the new requirements for the scope of supply due to the NEXUS approach of the EU:


  • The fish pass is flexibly adaptable to the respective species at the site, and the corresponding insert parts can be individualized.
  • The onward transport of bedload is optimized. As a result, the riverbeds retain their natural morphology.
  • The plant is prepared for climate change and can be equipped with a high and a low temperature option.
  • The moving parts are not driven hydraulically, but by electric motors, meaning that oil spills cannot occur.




Proof of concept: Power plant At-Bashi, Kyrgyzstan


The feedback from others has been excellent so far. In October 2022, representatives of Orion (Kyrgyzstan) visited the Muhr Group’s headquarters in Brannenburg, Germany. Orion was extremely satisfied with the state of development. There was also praise at the general meeting of the Hydro4U project consortium in Uzbekistan in June 2022: Muhr’s work was highlighted as well thought-out and versatile.

Looking back on what has been achieved since the beginning of the project, there is unanimous agreement that the chosen approach is the right one. This will be proven with the construction of the power plant at the At-Bashi site. All products are scheduled to be shipped there by end of November 2023, with construction to start on the beginning of 2024. The final commissioning of Uzbekistan’s first shaft power plant is scheduled for end of November 2024.




Author: Fabian Böttger, MUHR Group



1) The CAD models, which are designed using Muhr’s scalable approach, can also be used for cost calculation, procurement, and manufacturing.

2) The modular components can be re-dimensioned for all future power plant designs, eliminating the need to design parts for individual projects.



Photo credits: Muhr

Site surveys in At-Bashi to investigate the geotechnical subsurface conditions

Beginning with the first site visit in June 2022, ILF together with other project partners started the site-specific field works on the planned Hydro4U demonstration hydropower plant in At-Bashi (Kyrgyzstan). The main focus of the site visit was to obtain basic information for the subsequent detailed design works and, in particular, to specify the planned geotechnical subsurface investigations. As part of the planning and design works for hydropower projects, direct subsurface investigations are relevant to be carried out in accordance with international standards (e.g. Eurocode 7) for the geological-geotechnical characterisation of the site-specific ground conditions and to minimize project-specific subsurface risks.


Consequently, site surveys including aerial surveys using a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, to create digital terrain models) have been carried out for the Hydro4U project.


Based on these, rotary core drillings have been planned before the end of 2022. The drilling works will be performed in thick alluvial soils (sandy gravels with intercalated silts). In order to obtain information on grain size distributions, packing density, hydraulic permeability, shear strength, groundwater characteristics, and other parameters, continuous core recovery and in-situ geotechnical borehole testing as well as sampling will be required for subsequent laboratory analyses. The drilling works are expected to be performed by the local investor Orion LLC.


ILF will take up these results to carry out the detailed design and perform structural calculations for the concrete structures of two Hydroshaft Power Solution modules and associated structures, verify the stability of the dams of the tailrace channel and design the related erosion protection measures. Finally, ILF will prepare the construction drawings and provide site supervision services during the construction of the demonstration hydropower plant.


The ILF Group is an international engineering and consulting firm that helps its clients successfully execute technically demanding industrial and infrastructure projects all over the world in the following main business areas: Energy & Climate Protection, Water & Environment, Transportation & Urban Spaces and Oil, Gas & Industrial.



Authors: Gabriel Pojer, Christoph Prager, ILF Austria



Partner Description:

Photo credits: ILF

Studying fish movements and habitat use in the rivers of the Shakhimardan enclave – fishing/tagging/tracking

During the last two weeks of October, INBO and TIIAME visited the Shakhimardan construction site to catch and tag fish. Tracking fish leads to detailed insights on how fish move and to which riverine habitats throughout the year. This basic knowledge is currently lacking on the target species, snow trout (Schizothorax eurystomus), but essential to develop a hydropower that has a minimum impact on the species.


The goal of the trip was to catch and tag 30 snow trouts with radio transmitters. Doing so, INBO trained the researchers from TIIAME in telemetry and tagging as knowledge transfer so they can conduct such studies themselves in the future. The snow trouts were caught by electro fishing equipment. After capture, fish of a taggable size were anaesthetized to put a radio transmitter in the abdominal cavity. The opening was surgically closed and upon recovery they were put back in the river near their capture location.


The trip was not a trivial endeavor. The river current was treacherously strong, making it hard to keep up right with the electro fishing equipment. Also, the fishing was hard at the start of the trip: we mainly focused on the Shakhimardan and Aksu rivers as we thought that the snow trouts would be in the deeper parts of the larger rivers to rest during the upcoming winter season. Despite catching a few, the majority of the fish came from the smaller Koksu tributary. Numbers leaning towards the hundreds were caught. We think that the slightly warmer temperature from the Koksu attracts the snow trouts for wintering and could therefore play a key role in their life cycle. However, this is an assumption that can be scientifically validated with the tracking research. We are therefore looking forward to the data that the researchers and students from TIIAME will collect in the coming year. Last but not least we want to thank the Shakhimardan community for their big hospitality!



For a detailed blog on the trip in Dutch, click here.




Author: Pieterjan Verhelst, INBO



Partner Description: Link to the respective partner description on the Hydro4U website (by SEZ)


Twitter: @INBOVlaanderen &  @VerhelstPJ
LinkedIn: Research Institute for Nature and Forest

Facebook: Research Institute for Nature and Forest
Instagram: Research Institute for Nature and Forest

Photo credits: INBO

Happy Faces all around – Hydro4U team met with Kyrgyz cooperation partner Orion

On the 26th of October 2022, representatives of the Technical University of Munich, Global Hydro and Muhr Group met to analyse and discuss the current status of the Hydro4U project with the Kyrgyz cooperation partner Orion. The main topics of this meeting were the technology of the turbine, the steel hydraulic engineering as well as the overall arrangement of the power plant.


Orion was very pleased with the opportunity to learn about the technology in detail and was also impressed by the overall development in the Hydro4U project, which lead them to compliment the excellent work of the European Hydro4U partners.

The hosts were also highly satisfied and thus everyone agreed, that the preparations necessary for the installation of the Hydro4U demonstration object in At-Bashi (Kyrgyzstan) are in good hands with Orion.


In addition, the presentation at the headquarters of the Muhr Group in Brannenburg (Germany) was complemented by a visit to the Technical University of Munich as well as to the Dietenheim Hydroshaft power plant.

Representatives of TUM, MUHR, Global Hydro and Orion


Author: Fabian Böttger

picture credits: Roland Muhr

3rd Hydro4U Newsletter – October 2022

The third Hydro4U Newsletter has been published and sent out to our subscribers on the 24.10.2022. This month’s special topic is dedicated to the Hydro4U demonstration site “At-Bashi region” in Kyrgyzstan where a first assessment as a basis for the prefeasibility study took place, focusing on ecology, river morphology, geology, topography and on existing structures.


The whole newsletter edition is available here: Hydro4U Newsletter #3 – October 2022


Don’t miss out on future editions and subscribe here.