Hydrodynamic screw reverses for renewable energy

Hydro power, renewables, landustry, turbine, water fall

Water from the lake at Penllergare Valley Woods flows downwards to the river below, turning the screw to produce electricity.

With rising energy costs, not only is industry looking for energy-saving solutions, but even better are energy-producing solutions. Hydrodynamic screws are a low-cost, environmentally sound way to generate energy. Their origins go back to ancient Greece. Andritz Atro gave the original disign a new twist.

Hydrodynamic tech

Thanks to Andritz Atro’s hydrodynamic screw technology, high energy output can be achieved even from plants with very small hydropower potential.

This Atro’s version is a reversal of the screw’s energy principle. Instead of the screw being used to transport water upwards, the hydrodynamic screw uses the power created by water flowing downwards to generate energy. It does this by harnessing the potential energy between two different points in its flow path.

Energy from water

The hydrodynamic screws are sutable for flowing water with low heads and low flows (up to 10m and 10 m3/sec). Applications with low hydropower potential (from 1 to 500 kW) can be efficiently exploited at low cost. Even with fluctuating water levels, hydrodynamic screws reach efficiencies up to 92%.


  • One less kg of CO2 is generated for every kWh generated from renewable hydropower compared to conventional power generation
  • Living organisms such as fis hand other water animals, can pass through the screw unharmed.
  • The screw also enriches the oxygen content in the water, which improves water quality in deeper bodies of water
  • The screw and the screw trough can be integrated into the natural bed of a river or stream, requiring little maintenance and no cleaning effort.

The screw is designed for standalone operation and for feeding aan existing grid. This makes it particularly suitable for industry and the private sector.

1 kW output

The economic payback is impressive. Of particular note is the efficient utilization even with hydropower potential as low as 1 kW output.


Andritz Atro GmbH


Case Study

Harvesting hill streams of Wales for hydropower

The little stream bubbling off the Black Mountain and tumbling 300ft down to the river Towey in the Brecon Beacons has no name and is far too small to feature on most maps. But for Welsh hill farmer Howell Williams, over whose 290 acres of steep and boggy pasture land it flows, it is an unexpected pension and a simple way to keep rural Wales populated.

Directing just some of his stream’s water down a six inch pipe and into a turbine all constructed for about £50,000 generates nearly 18 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity at peak times, and earns him £10,000 – 15,000 ( $15,730 – 23,600) a year.

Harvest rainwater top priority

Helping to harvest Wales’s abundant rainfall should be a priority for any government, he says, because there are thousands of untapped streams like his pouring off hillsides in the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and the Berwyns.

“The potential for micro hydro in this, one of the wettest parts of Britain, is almost limitless,” says Chris Blake, director of the Green Valleys (Wales) community interest company which since 2009 has secured licenses for nearly 50 micro hydro schemes, installed 23, and has 13 more under construction. Together TGV’s schemes generate nearly 2,000 megawatt hours (MWh) a year.

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