The Fraunhofer Energy Alliance develops new technologies for the usage of hydropower, both small and large scale. For example, researchers at Fraunhofer have developed an innovative power generator that uses wastewater to economically generate electrical energy even with small amounts of water and low pressure differences.

Experts at Fraunhofer see great potentials in the research field of marine energy. For this purpose, innovative technologies and regulatory approaches for marine current turbines are being developed. Furthermore, subsea pumped-storage power plants offer a completely new storage method. They use the sea as the upper reservoir and a hollow body on the seabed as the lower reservoir.

Competencies of the Fraunhofer Energy Alliance in the field of Hydropower

Wave Power and Ocean Current Power Plant

In the field of marine energy, the institutes of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are increasingly active in the fields of wave energy and flow energy. While wave energy is based on the interaction between wind and ocean energy, flow energy primarily uses the naturally occurring energy of the tides. One innovative concept developed by Fraunhofer researchers is marine pumped-storage power plants, which use the sea itself as a storage reservoir. In the context of wave power and ocean current power plants, we support clients in the fields of project management, GIS-based site assessments and cost modeling, logistics, environmental impact assessment, design of drivetrain and electrical system, operations management and control, condition monitoring, dynamic modeling and simulation of the entire system, HIL laboratory testing of the scaled model, assembly and installation, and the execution and evaluation of test runs.




The project comprises the development and testing of a novel pumped storage concept for storing large amounts of electrical energy offshore.

Focus: Project management, GIS based site assessment and cost modelling, logistics,...

Barrage Hydropower Cascades

The operational management of barrage hydropower cascades is a complex challenge, as it is necessary to optimize flood protection, shipping and energy generation. Unpredictable or extreme weather conditions further complicate the coordination of barrages. Researchers of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are working on multi-criteria optimization systems in order to globally optimize barrage hydropower cascades, taking into account all the above-mentioned factors, and to maximize energy production in a sustainable manner.



Simulation models optimize water power

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute IOSB in Ilmenau are developing information technology to make water power generation systems more efficient.



Development of a control system, that is able to optimize trajectories for several barrages (more information in German).


Small Hydro Power Plants

Small hydropower plants can be used in free-flowing waters and thus contribute to the energetic development of sites with low hydropower potential. The institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are researching into economically efficient and ecologically compatible hydropower plants that are characterized by novel conversion concepts.



Using elastomer films to generate electricity

Innovative elastomer materials are set to convert the mechanical energy produced by flowing water in small rivers directly into electrical energy.



New elastomer generators convert mechanical energy directly into electrical energy with the help of extremely flexible elastomer foils when water flows in rivers.



Small hydropower plants: Assessment of climate protection potential and improvement by smart technologies.