The thing about water is that it is designed to flow. Streams become rivers and rivers can turn into torrents. But this is less about the philosophical principle of “panta rhei” – a Greek phrase for “everything flows” – and more about gathering data to document the waterways of Europe for proper analysis.
To English speakers, the name of this EU project may conjure up an image of the gemstone, but “AMBER” is actually an acronym that stands for “Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers”. So it is about artificial impediments to the natural course of European rivers. This includes transverse structures like locks and barrages. Hydropower plants are operated with the aid of some of these transverse structures. The data derived from AMBER will therefore help improve the planning and environmental outcomes of power plants engaged in renewable power generation.
For this reason, some of our Research and Development experts from the Renewables segment are working on the new EU-sponsored project. Together with around 20 other European partners from scientific and commercial organisations, they are investigating how the present, heavily-fragmented river landscape should be developed in the future, to ensure the ecological system remains as intact as possible. Some of the relevant requirements for this stem from the Water Framework Directive of the EU, which also sets the environmental framework for the operation of our hydropower plants.
The researchers will be conducting the first pan-European analysis of these transverse structures, which will enable them to determine such things as which passability measures have the highest priority. As part of the process, so-called eDNA analysis will be used, or examination of DNA traces from the water or river sediment.
By participating in this project and contributing our own expertise, we can be sure of remaining in the loop on any discussions at the scientific and political level and can also prepare ourselves for any future developments that may have an impact on the operating conditions of our hydropower plants.