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Fast Facts
Natural hazards
Funding period
01.10.2017 - 31.12.2020
Funding volume
1.284.985 €
Funding reference number

Coordinator: Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum

Contact Person: Marco Pilz

Address: Helmholtzstraße 7, 13367 Potsdam


E-mail: @email


Project partners

  • Berlin Institute of Technology
  • Alberding GmbH, Wildau
  • Airbus Defence and Space GmbH, Potsdam


Project partner in Kyrgyzstan

  • CAIAG - Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Multi-parameter Observation and Real-time Risk Assessment of Hydropower Plants in the Kyrgyz Republic

The infrastructure of hydropower plants in the Kyrgyz Republic is very prone to failure. The reason for this is the fact that it is largely based on obsolete systems. In particular, natural hazards such as earthquakes and landslides represent risks to the facilities today. Novel structural and environmental monitoring systems can help detect structural changes to dams and their slope environment in real time and inform decision makers in an emergency. The German-Kyrgyz joint project MI-DAM is continuing to develop these systems at the Kurpsai Dam in central Kyrgyzstan.

Risk analysis and early-warning system for Kyrgyz hydropower plants

In the Kyrgyz Republic, low maintenance and severe climatic fluctuations have made existing hydropower infrastructure very vulnerable to failure. Currently, there is no continuous, precise and comprehensive hazard and risk analysis of the entire plant infrastructure. The MI-DAM project is developing innovative methods for monitoring the dam systems of hydroelectric power plants and their surrounding slopes as well as a real-time early-warning system in the event of a damage event.

Using the Kurpsai Dam in central Kyrgyzstan as an example, a robust, cost-effective and adaptable system for risk monitoring and analysis will be developed. It will continuously monitor the condition of the dam and the surrounding slopes and process the records locally. An early-warning system should forward the user-relevant information to the appropriate operations centres, such as dam operators and the Ministry of Civil Protection.

Use of an innovative combination of methods and training of local actors

The existing infrastructure of the dam and its slope environment will be analysed and modelled in detail to implement the project. So-called fragility curves are calculated, which describe the occurrence of possible damage for individual infrastructure objects, e.g. due to a strong earthquake. The slope environment of the dam will be studied in terms of the likelihood of slope failure due to ground movements. The installation of novel cost-effective multi-parameter sensors will provide a system for the continuous and long-term monitoring and prediction of earthquake-induced ground vibrations, structural deformations and the like. This includes the implementation of efficient systems for data transmission and decision-making. In addition, the development of a prototype software for real-time risk analysis for both the monitored slopes and the dam is one of the planned measures.

Installation of seismic sensors and the real-time data transmission system using WLAN technology. © Dr. Marco Pilz, GFZ Potsdam
Installation of seismic sensors and the real-time data transmission system using WLAN technology. © Dr. Marco Pilz, GFZ Potsdam

MI-DAM is combining modern GPS technology monitoring, a state-of-the-art fibre optic system for measuring dam deflection and sensors to monitor ground and dam motion in an innovative way. The results from each individual system are incorporated into the development of the real-time monitoring system, allowing all relevant information to be transmitted directly to the relevant authorities and decision-makers.

The monitoring system to be developed in the project is intended to enable broad use for structural investigations and monitoring tasks. Part of the project is also the training of local end users and technicians on-site in the developed methods and instruments. This also includes the chance for scientists from the Kyrgyz Republic to carry out the evaluation in close cooperation with the German project partners.

Application also for other infrastructure

The result of MI-DAM will be a process that, due to its flexible applicability, will cover a wide range of applications. In addition to hydropower plants, it would also be conceivable to use them to monitor other infrastructures and the interactions between infrastructures and the environment (e.g. coupling and transmission of seismic energy).

The results of the joint project will further assist dam operators and Kyrgyz decision-makers in future operational use. In addition to innovative research aspects such as the combination of long-term deformation measurements and short-term vulnerability analysis of earthquakes and landslides, the project could also open up a market for novel and cost-effective monitoring systems for the project's German industrial partners.

The overall aim of the project is to contribute to reducing the risk of infrastructure damage from natural hazards in the Kyrgyz Republic by developing effective and innovative methods for monitoring dams and surrounding slopes as well as providing an early-warning system.

View of the Kurpsai dam and surrounding slopes in Central Kyrgyzstan. © Dr. Marco Pilz, GFZ Potsdam
View of the Kurpsai dam and surrounding slopes in Central Kyrgyzstan. © Dr. Marco Pilz, GFZ Potsdam