Sustainable operation of hydraulic plants

The Life 4 Fish programme received a European subsidy to protect two migratory fish species


In June 2017, EDF Luminus and its partners (University of Namur, University of Liège, Profish technologies, EDF Research&Development) received a substantial subsidy from the European Commission, to implement and validate various ways of protecting two species of migratory fish in the Meuse: the silver eel and the salmon smolt.


The goal of this five-year, 4-million-euro programme, with 2 million euro in financing from the European Commission, is to find sustainable solutions that ensure both the hydroelectric output and the safety of the migrating fish species.


Some of the Life 4 Fish studies are being financed by EDF Luminus, using 1.5 million euro from its own funds. These studies will establish the initial situation. On the one hand, they will evaluate the migratory paths taken by the two species, and on the other hand they will identify the ecological continuity for three generic plants Andenne, Grand-Malades and Monsin.


“This is the first time measures on this scale have been undertaken for the Basse-Meuse,” states Pierre Theunissen, Project Manager at EDF Luminus. “Not all of the studies planned for 2017 could be carried out due to the low runoff, in particular those relating to the survival of the fish, which must be carried out in a nominal flow. But we could still collect data on the salmon migration from March to April 2017. The study of the eel migration began in October 2017 and will continue in 2018.”

Tests of the ecological continuity measures on the salmon, carried out on 14 March 2017.

Four solutions to tested


The four solutions studied as part of the Life 4 Fish programme use different technologies. The first involves predicting the periods of downstream migration, to adapt the activity of hydroelectric plants based on the intensity of the migratory activity of the fish. The second involves installing repellent barriers, aimed at directing the fish to an adequate outlet. The third involves setting up an outlet for downstream migration. The fourth solution, which is not funded by the Life Program, involves the replacement of two existing turbines at the Monsin site with a new type of turbine, called an eco-sustainable turbine. This new technique is aimed at reducing the impact on fish fauna while ensuring sufficient energy production.

Prestigious partners


To carry out a project on this scale, EDF Luminus requested scientific and technical contributions from several partners:

  • ULiège (HECE of the University of Liège) provided expertise in hydraulic modelling, in order to establish a link between the configuration of sites and the behaviour of the fish. The detailed study on the flow conditions, both digitaly and experimental, on smaller-scale physical models, aimes at improving plant design.
  • UNamur (University of namur) will contribute to the composition of the fish stocks and to the study of biological stress markers.
  • The Research and Development teams of the EDF Group will handle the creation of the migration models and the measurement protocols
  • The company Profish Technology, specialist in biological monitoring, contributes to the initial study of the migratory paths and the measurements of the effectiveness of the implemented solutions.

A dedicated scientific committee will meet at least two times per year during the entire duration of the project, to ensure the project’s international promotion and future replications.


To know more about this project.