ARENA funding provided / committed:$613,377
Total project value: $1,124,331
This project produced detailed scientific information on the effects small hydro has on native fish species, which could be used to improve the design and operation of small hydro systems.
Lead organisation: Waratah Power Pty Ltd
Project partners: Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW), NSW Department of Primary Industries, Aquatic Ecosystems (NSW), UNSW Manly Hydraulics Lab
Location: North Bondi and various sites across NSW, NSW
ARENA programme: Emerging Renewables Programme
Start date: April 2012
Finish date: 30 May 2014
Large scale hydropower projects already produce the majority of Australia’s renewable energy, but much of the potential expansion of hydropower production lies in the application of small hydropower technologies .
Nationally, there are thousands of irrigation structures and weirs that could be retrofitted to enable small hydropower production for clean electricity production. Globally, small hydropower is growing at a significant rate, with the largest untapped market being on Australia’s doorstep in Asia.
It is important that any small hydro development is progressed with minimal impact on fish and other aquatic fauna. It is understood that some species of fish are susceptible to injury and mortality during downstream migration, but presently there is no information available to help in the sustainable design of small hydro facilities in Australia.
Through a series of laboratory and field trials, the project produced detailed scientific information on the effects small hydro has on native fish species, which could be used to improve the design and operation of small hydro systems.
The establishment of biodesign criteria, based on aquatic species response, will also assist regulatory decision-making as well as guide the design of small hydro technologies and projects in Australia and internationally.
Availability of scientific data which can guide the development of fish-friendly small hydropower projects, and enable technologies to be applied at a much wider range of sites with confidence that any potential impacts on fisheries can be reduced.
Enhancing Australia’s expertise in hydropower development and operation, with increased leadership in sustainable hydropower design will facilitate Australia’s hydropower community to engage in projects throughout the world.
Already there has been strong interest in this project from the research community in the United States, Indonesia and the Mekong. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is now funding an extension of the program with application to Asia’s Mekong River, focussing on local species and conditions.