Site surveys in At-Bashi to investigate in geotechnical subsurface

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

Hydro4U contributes to KSTU Summer School 2022

The second edition of the Summer School on “HydroKG Kyrgyzstan – hydropower, ecology and hydromorphology” for international bachelor and master students was hosted by Hydro4U project partner Kyrgyz State Technical University named I. Razzakov (KSTU) in Kyrgystan during two weeks in August and September 2022.


Hydro4U aims to bring together stakeholders from industry, politics and science from both Central Asia and the European Union to contribute to a sustainable and climate-resilient future for the region by demonstrating European small hydropower equipment and technologies.


Moreover, one of the objectives of the Hydro4U project is to develop academic programmes and courses on sustainable hydropower for students.


In this regard, KSTU, as one of the partners of Hydro4U project, annually holds a two-week Summer School for students. This programme was already developed jointly by KSTU and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in 2019. The Summer School is mainly funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).


From 20th August to 5th September 2022, students from Germany, Argentina and Kyrgyzstan visited hydroelectric power plants in the south and north of Kyrgyzstan and learned about the environmental consequences and sustainability associated with ecology and hydromorphology, as well as the hydro-electro-technical part of the stations.


The Summer School was led by Ms. Venera Baichekirova, head of the international department of KSTU. From the technical side, it was supported by Professor Nuridin Niyazov from KSTU (Karakoel site), by Hydro4U project partners as well as by IWMI-CA (Uzbekistan office).


The main programme of this year’s Summer School consisted of lectures and seminars at KSTU, combined with field trips to interesting places related to hydropower in the Kyrgyz Republic, small hydropower plants and natural river systems. Russian language courses were also organised teaching technical terminology. Moreover, cultural excursions to the mountainous regions and museums of Kyrgyzstan were offered.


Seminars were held by:


  • Muktarbek Kubat “Perspektive und Entwicklung erneuerbarer Energiequellen” (engl. Perspective and development of renewable energy sources), “Wasser Ressourcen und Management in Zentralasien” (engl. Water resources and management in Central Asia),
  • Saida Usmonova “Sustainable small-scale hydropower potential in Central Asia and role of Water-Energy-Food nexus” and
  • Abdikhamid Urazkeldiev “Hydro4U project: case study of Water-Energy-Food nexus assessments from demonstration sites”.


The students received explanations about the ecological and agricultural background of Central Asia and painted a picture of future challenges of the region. They also visited the Orto-Tokoi reservoir on Issyk Kul’e (led by Mr. Nurbek Sadygaliev), where they received a lot of information about irrigation in Central Asia.


This Summer School offered again an exciting programme for students, professors and experts, who had the opportunity to gain new knowledge and share information about Central Asia as well as to get to know a new culture and an amazing country like Kyrgyzstan.


The organisers would like to thank the partners of the Hydro4U project for their contribution to this year’s Summer School.


Author: Venera Baichekirova, KSTU


Partner description: KSTU


Facebook: KSTU

YouTube: KSTU

Photo credits: Venera Baichekirova, KSTU

Hydro4U project discovers fishes in Koksu River
(Shakimardan enclave, Uzbekistan) for the first time

Until now, no one thought there were fish in the Koksu River located in Shakimardan enclave, Uzbekistan. Also, until today, no literature information on fish catches in this river was registered. This is due to the lack of up-to-date information on aquatic ecology as well as fish biodiversity and migrations in Central Asia. Also, modern techniques for fish ecology studies were missing.


Within Hydro4U project, scientists from the TIIAME NRU team led by Prof. Bakhtiyor Karimov have conducted intensive aquatic ecology studies and for the first time in history, have revealed the presence of two fish species there: snow trout (Schizothorax eurystomus Kessler, 1872) and one loach species (Triplophysa sp.). During a fieldtrip for river ecology studies in the area of the potential small hydropower plant in November 2021, 24 specimen of snow trout of different ages were caught in the midstream of the river above Shakimardan Village, as well as more than 10 snow trout and loach specimen within Shakimardan Village in April 2022, thanks to the employment of electrofishing equipment introduced by Hydro4U project partners.


The caught fish species could serve as indicators for river ecology. Their habitat requirements serve as a basis for habitat studies and ultimately for achieving the goal of implementing environmentally friendly hydropower solutions.


The “Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers” National Research University (TIIAME NRU) is a regionally recognised academic and research institute known for its top programmes in engineering (irrigation, water resources, ecology and environment, electrification & automation, agricultural mechanisation, land management and agricultural economics / management & marketing).


In Hydro4U, TIIAME NRU’s core activities are to depict the impact of small-scale hydropower on aquatic and fish ecology in mountain ecosystems and to lead the preparation and dissemination of open-source educational materials.


Author: Prof. Dr. Bakhtiyor Karimov


Partner description: TIIAME


Instagram: tiiameofficial


Facebook: Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers

Twitter: @tiiameofficial



1) The snowtrout caught at “Chuqursoy” in Shakimardan village

2) Fish species – Triplophysa sp. from Koksu river, April 2022

3) Koksu river, Shakimardan Village

Boosting the replication of European Small-hydropower solutions in Central Asia

Central Asia is a singular region in terms of Small Hydropower (SHP) development. Although the zone has the second largest SHP potential (up to 10 MW) in the world with 34.4 GW, it is the area with the lowest percentage of SHP development, with only 0.8% of SHP exploited so far.[1]


Behind these low figures, there is a great number of political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental barriers. There are common issues as the lack of information on SHP or the lack of private sector funding. Moreover, some Central Asian countries have to deal with extreme weather conditions which negatively affect hydropower development, as for example in high altitude regions where streams are likely to freeze in winter.


Hydro4U aims to boost European SHP industry by adapting existing European high-quality solutions to the demands and resources of Central Asia. Furthermore, in order to accelerate the exploitation of these solutions, a replication strategy is being elaborated.


CARTIF is a technology Centre with more than 25 years of experience in the development of renewable energy projects and in the definition of strategies for energy transition. In the context of Hydro4U, CARTIF is leading the replication activities. A key point of our work will be the development of a replication guideline tool, aimed at future investors or public authorities to support decision-making on new SHP projects in Central Asia. The tool will be based on a computational model integrating GIS information and statistical data and will be implemented at river basin level.


Currently, it is planned that the tool will consist of several interactive modules, aiming to (1) visualise the total sustainable HP potential and installed capacity, (2) simulate hydropower (HP) generation scenarios considering Water-Food-Energy-Climate Nexus constrains, sustainability of resources and socio-economic impacts and (3) provide HP technology recommendations as well as lessons learnt related to the implementation of new HP projects.


The tool is intended for public use and is therefore not only aimed at experts who are familiar with the specific details, but also at decision-makers, investors and politicians.


[1] United Nations Industrial Development Organisation. 2019 World Small Hydropower Development Report (WSHPDR)]



Authors: Raquel López, Iván Ramos, Ismael Lozano and Fredy Vélez, CARTIF


Partner description: CARTIF
Twitter: @CARTIFCT
LinkedIn: CARTIF
Facebook: CARTIF

Curious to explore Hydro4U project? Discover our dissemination materials!

In Hydro4U, an international consortium of multiple experts is collaborating to promote small-scale hydropower in Central Asia. We, at Steinbeis Europa Zentrum, are making the hard work of our technical colleagues visible by presenting our project activities and achievements in an easy-to-understand way, for experts and non-experts alike!


Here is what we have developed for you to dive into our project!


Our Hydro4U project website informs you about the technologies developed to demonstrate small-scale hydropower in central Asia. Discover our technological solutions: the container solution and the shaft power plant. Moreover, you can find regular blogs depicting the work of our project partners and our latest news. In our event section, you will find inspiration where to meet our consortium or the hydropower community! Recently, main parts of our website have been translated into Russian to better reach stakeholders and the general public in Central Asia! Click here to browse through our website in Russian language.


Until today, we have published two newsletters giving an update on our project activities. While the first newsletter was focused on sustainable small-scale hydropower solutions developed in Hydro4U, the second newsletter was dedicated to our demonstration site “Shakimardan” in Uzbekistan where small-scale hydropower will be demonstrated using the Francis-Container-Power-Solution manufactured by Global Hydro. If you would like to receive future editions, subscribe here.


Finally, have a look at our brand-new project leaflet in EN or RU to get a quick overview about our project partners, aims and technical solutions!


To get the latest updates on Hydro4U, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel!


Author: Kathrin Eckerlin, Steinbeis Europa Zentrum


For general information and press inquiries, please send an email to:


Partner description: Steinbeis Europa Zentrum
Twitter: @SEZ_Europa
LinkedIn: Steinbeis Europa Zentrum
Facebook: @Steinbeis.Europa.Zentrum
YouTube: Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum

Hydro4U partner GLOBAL Hydro: smarT technology & modular Kaplan design

GLOBAL Hydro is the world’s first contact for digital small hydropower technologies and ensures a livable environment for the future through innovative solutions. The independent company with many years of experience in hydropower specialises in Kaplan, Pelton and Francis turbines in the range of 100kW to 30MW. In Hydro4U, Global Hydro will develop turbine technology that meets the requirements in Central Asia in terms of costs, installation, maintenance and operation while ensuring the highest European quality standards.


GLOBAL Hydro is very active in Asia. The company was Platinum Sponsor of the most important hydropower fair in Nepal: the World Expo Himalayan Hydro Expo 2022 in Kathmandu that took place from 2nd to 4th of April 2022. Besides, a few months ago, GLOBAL Hydro founded GLOBAL Hydro India, a new subsidiary with more than 60 employees, to further support and expand their existing project network in Central Asia.


GLOBAL Hydro’s role in Hydro4U is to adapt their hydropower solutions for the Hydro4U demo sites. Their goal in the project is to further develop two different technologies in a forward-looking manner:


  • on the one hand, an innovative Kaplan turbine for irrigation canals and existing weir structures in a modular design and
  • on the other hand, the Francis Container: smarT container solution for medium heads.
SmarT Container (credits: GLOBAL Hydro)

For this purpose, two demonstration sites will be selected and realised: one with the innovative Kaplan turbine, and one with the Francis smarT solution. Thus, GLOBAL Hydro will be able to show these two core technologies.


Their activities in Central Asia will highlight the potential of small hydropower worldwide as:



  • the Hydro4U demonstration sites shall inspire to exploit unused hydropower potential worldwide, regardless of their size
  • GLOBAL Hydro will show that such kind of products with European quality standards are feasible in Central Asia as well as worldwide.


Author: Alexandra Vogt, GLOBAL Hydro


Partner Description: GHE
LinkedIn: Global Hydro Energy
Instagram: globalhydroenergy
Facebook: Global Hydro Energy

Assessments and benefits sharing in the context of the Water-Food-Energy-Climate nexus in Shakhimardan river basin

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a non-profit, research-for-development organisation, based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, that works with governments, civil society and the private sector to solve water problems in developing countries and scale up solutions. IWMI opened a subregional office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in 2001. It is the only international institute conducting water research in Central Asia. Together with the numerous partners and stakeholders from their broad network, IWMI tackles the key water management issues facing the region. IWMI identifies the best practices for improving irrigation performance, reversing land degradation, addressing interlinkages in the water-energy-food nexus, improving the efficiency of water and energy use, promoting the economic efficiency of water management, and enhancing transboundary water cooperation and governance in shared river basins. IWMI’s strategy is centered around three strategic programmes – Water, Food and Ecosystems; Water, Climate Change and Resilience; and Water, Growth and Inclusion – each supported by high-quality science and digital innovation.


In Hydro4U, IWMI is responsible to carry out the quantification of shared benefits and trade-off analyses from small-scale hydropower (SHP). The cross-sectoral nexus dimensions need to be fully understood, not only at regional level, but also in the specific local contexts where SHP solutions are planned. Therefore, a seminar was held on 9th March 2022 in Fergana (Uzbekistan) to exchange views with the population and local authorities on the assessment of the nexus interdependence and cross-sectoral distribution of interests. The purpose of the consultation meeting was to discuss with local stakeholders from Ferghana district the importance of the nexus between Water-Energy-Food and Climate in the context of SHP installation in Shakhimardansay, one of the demonstration sites selected under Hydro4U.


Therefore, it is important to understand how SHP will influence other sectors in the region and how it will improve socio-economic conditions of the enclave Shahimaradansay. The aim was to bring together representatives of the water, energy, agricultural and environmental sectors as well as local authorities.


The water, energy and food sectors are so strongly interlinked that actions in one area commonly impact on one or both of the other sectors. Yet, all too often, these sectors operate in isolation, and seeking security in one sector may in fact compromise others or affect negatively the integrity of ecosystems.


In transboundary basins, obtaining harmonised data from all riparian countries and forming a holistic and shared picture of the situation and future scenarios is more complicated and requires specific approaches and policy dialogues. A joint assessment of intersectoral links, trade-offs and benefits serve the development of more coherent policies, reducing frictions between sectors and environmental impacts, as well as promoting the expansion of cross-border cooperation.


The nexus approaches help governments, investors and local communities think about where and how to maintain, restore and improve ecosystems and biodiversity, regenerate agriculture, and support sustainable irrigation, clean energy, and agro-processing needs. The nexus approach involves a broad range of actors (including women, youth and vulnerable groups) and stakeholders working together to connect systems in ways that seek equitable economic and social well-being.


IWMI will assess the cross-sectoral nexus at regional level and in the specific local contexts where SHP solutions are planned.  A situational analysis report and survey to document site-specific characteristics will be prepared. Geospatial analyses will be enriched by interviews with stakeholders in the catchment area to capture detailed socio-economic dimensions on the ground. An investigation will be undertaken to determine to what extent site-specific learnings are transferable to the Central Asian context, to interstate canals and transboundary river basins.


IWMI jointly with other Hydro4U partners will conduct a mapping of the main actors at selected demo and test sites, of their roles and responsibilities and investigate the formal and informal institutions that exist to foster water governance. The robustness of sharing agreements will be screened according to their “climate-readiness”, including from the perspective of the extent of non-cooperation in the respective contexts.


Author: Saida Usmonova, IWMI-Tashkent


Partner Description: IWMI
LinkedIn: International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Understanding the Complex Hydrology of Semi-Arid Central Asia

From a hydrological perspective, semi-arid Central Asia is a region of immense contrasts. On its south-eastern fringe are the large mountain ranges, including the Hindu Kush, the Pamir, the Gissar-Alay, and the Tien Shan. From there, the major rivers of the region emerge, including the Harirud and Murghab rivers, the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya as part of the Aral Sea basin, and finally, the Chu River and Talas River (Figure 1). These rivers are mostly snow melt-fed, with peak discharge occurring during the warm boreal summer months. During the irrigation season, much of the annually available water gets allocated for agricultural production in the downstream. This has allowed the region to prosper for millennia and led to the Aral Sea’s desiccation in the second half of the 20th century after irrigation systems saw a significant expansion in the area.


hydrosolutions GmbH (HSOL) is the lead expert agency on hydrology and remote sensing in the EU Horizon 2020 Hydro4U project. The team has more than 15 years of experience in the region. Additionally, it draws on a significant pool of local experts to unravel the fascinatingly complex hydrology in Central Asia on the one hand and to study in detail climate impacts there, with a focus on implications for the development of sustainable small-scale hydropower solutions in the highlands there.

Figure 1: The major river basins of south-western semi-arid Central Asia are shown. The red dots indicate the locations of 277 gauging stations for which stream flow characteristics have been collected and the contributing areas delineated. The colours show the aridity index where red colours indicate highly arid conditions in the downstream plains and blue hues show the zones of runoff formation in the upstream mountaineous places. Source: hydrosolutions GmbH.

As a foundation for the estimation of the small-scale hydropower potential (< 10 MW) in Central Asia, HSOL has worked to retrieve from different archives the locations and streamflow characteristics of close to 300 operational and historic gauges in the river basins (see red dots in Figure 1). Geolocating these was a significant task that required the consultation of different complementary sources. A meticulous workflow was established for cross-validating the identified gauge locations. All this was necessary because no such database exists in the region due to the lack of the tradition to work with geospatial data.


For all gauges, the contributing catchment areas were mapped. Many topographic/land-cover and (bio-)climatological characteristics, as well as information on land ice, are extracted from the latest state-of-the-art data sets. Climate forcing from four CMIP6 models and four scenarios was bias-corrected and downscaled to study in detail the climate impacts in the region and the implications for small-scale hydropower in the mountainous zones. Detailed hydrological studies are carried out at several sites of interest to inform, among other things, the proper dimensioning of the planned hydropower infrastructure and ecological minimum flows (Figure 2).

Figure 2: HSOL is carrying out several detailed hydrological catchment analyses of sites where possible sustainable and ecofriendly, small-scale hydropower technology can be implemented with the goal to foster a local and regional development. Source: hydrosolutions GmbH.

Finally, HSOL is co-designing with local stakeholders and implementing a water planning and accounting tool for comprehensive quantitative studies of the water, energy and food nexus dimensions in catchments of interest. Once operational in local agencies, this tool has the potential to streamline existing planning and accounting workflows and make them less error-prone and time-consuming, which may also lead to an overall improvement of the allocation of scarce water resources (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Count4D is a water-energy-food accounting tool that also allows for tradeoff analysis between the crucial nexus dimensions. Source: hydrosolutions GmbH.

This is just the beginning of an exciting journey to further unravel the hydrology of the Central Asian region and to gain a proper, solid understanding of how best to develop the local water resources in a sustainable and ecologically sensitive manner for the ultimate benefit of the local population. Stay tuned for more news on this channel. More information can also be found on the website of hydrosolutions GmbH.



Author: Tobias Siegfried, hydrosolutions GmbH


Partner Description: hydrosolutions GmbH
Twitter: @H2O_SOL

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences draws upon 150 years of international research and management expertise

In a time where sustainable development and management of the globe’s resources is more important than ever, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) draws upon 150 years of international research and management expertise. Within Hydro4U, BOKU plays a key role in finding sustainable hydropower development solutions in Central Asia’s multidisciplinary and complex environment.


A team of highly motivated researchers from two BOKU institutes – the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and River Research (IWA) and the Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG) – with profound experience in integrative river basin planning and environmental research is involved in several project tasks. Working with state-of-the-art tools at different spatial scales, the BOKU team will explore the sustainable small-scale hydropower potential and develop decision support tools for the detection of potential sites. BOKU scientists will also conduct extensive field measurements to provide invaluable baseline data for installing the two demo hydropower facilities.


The successful start of BOKU’s project activities – together with its project partners hydrosolutions GmbH (HSOL), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the “Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers” National Research University (TIIAME NRU), and SJE Ecohydraulic Engineering – resulted in a unique geodatabase, currently consisting of over 40 usable spatially relevant data sets assigned to six thematic sectors. This Hydro4U database provides a key starting point and a central element for research questions and project tasks of multiple work packages dealing with the analysis and replication of unexploited small-scale hydropower potential as well as the Water-Food-Energy-Climate nexus. Motivated by this project deliverable’s success, the BOKU team now delves into methodological and conceptional research questions, sustainability assessments and is looking forward to furthering exchange within the project team and the stakeholders, jointly developing sustainable solutions for small-scale hydropower  in Central Asia.


Authors: Beatrice Wagner, Helmut Habersack – BOKU IWA | Daniel S. Hayes – BOKU IHG


Partner Description: BOKU
Twitter: @BOKUvienna, @BOKU_IHG