Voith has begun construction of a small hydropower plant at its factory premises in Heidenheim that will serve as a demonstration hydro power plant for customers, employees and the interested public.

Groundbreaking was held on 26 April for the ‘Alte Bleiche’ plant on the river Brenz following a 12 month preparation phase. The 35kW plant and the associated exhibition room and control container are scheduled to go into operation at the end of the year.

The small hydropower plant will be installed into an existing weir system of the Brenz. In cooperation with TU Munich (Technical University of Munich) an ecological solution for a so-called shaft power plant was developed that will see Voith’s StreamDiver technology installed inside a concreted chamber below the riverbed. By utilizing existing dam structures and eliminating the need for a powerhouse, it will be possible to build the power plant in a very cost-efficient manner. In addition, the power plant will not generate noise emissions or have minimum impact on the natural scenery, making it more acceptable to the public, said Voith.

A special aspect of the ‘Alte Bleiche’ project will be the substantial integration of Voith’s technical apprentices. They are for example deployed in the design, manufacture and installation of the turbine and will take care of the control cabinet assembly. Furthermore, students from the Cooperative State University Baden-Württemberg (Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg, DHBW) will participate in project management and engineering.

"The small hydropower plant ‘Alte Bleiche’ is a major interdisciplinary project for our apprentices who will contribute significantly to the project’s success," explained Erwin Krajewski, Head of Voith Apprenticeship. "Moreover, we are also strengthening our reputation as an attractive training company with this project."