Energyminer, a start-up company, plans to introduce “energy fish” into the Isar river to help test a new generation of hydroelectric power plants in practice. The fish, measuring 2.3 meters wide, three meters long, and weighing almost 90 kilograms, are anchored to the river bed and will be under special observation. Regardless, founder Georg Walder expects no ecological problems as the system blends seamlessly with nature. Hydropower used to account for most of Germany’s renewable electricity production, but photovoltaic, wind power and biomass systems have since taken off, reducing hydropower to generating only three to four percent of Germany’s gross electricity consumption.
Scientists and companies are now working toward significantly increasing hydropower’s share of energy production in Germany. Although the potential in Germany is limited compared to countries like Switzerland and Norway, where hydropower accounts for 60 or even 90 percent of electricity, Christian Seidel, head of the research group at the Institute for Statics and Dynamics at the Technical University of Braunschweig, stated that technically, Germany could double or even triple its hydropower production. However, the low gradient in the mountains and overused inland waterways pose challenges.