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Reg. No.:


Course Unit:

Power Plant Engineering II


Report on the Components of a Hydro Power Plant


20th November, 2014


Mr. Kakebe Robert

Hydroelectric power plants convert the hydraulic potential energy of flowing water into
electrical energy. Falling or flowing water turns a propeller-like piece called a turbine. The
turbine turns a metal shaft in an electric generator which produces electricity.
Such plants are suitable were water with suitable head are available. The simplified layout of
a hydropower plant consists of a dam, control gates, surge tank, penstock, hydraulic turbine,
generator, control room, transformers and transmission and many more. The diagram below
shows the layout of a hydroelectric power plant.
Diagram showing the layout of a hydroelectric power plant

The Components of a Hydroelectric Electric Power Plant

1. Catchment Area
The catchment area of a hydro plant is the whole area behind the dam, draining into a
stream or river across which the dam has been built at a suitable place.
2. The Water Reservoir
In a reservoir, the water collected from the catchment area is stored behind a dam.
Catchment area gets its water from rain and streams. The level of water surface in the
reservoir is called Head water level. Continuous availability of water is a basic
necessity for a hydro-electric power plant.

3. Dam
The purpose of the dam is to store the water and to regulate the outgoing flow of
water. The dam helps to store all the incoming water. It also helps to increase the head
of the water. In order to generate a required quantity of power it is necessary that a
sufficient head is available.
Classification of Dams
Dams are classified basing on the following factors:
Based on function the dam may be called as storage dam, diversion dam or
detention dam.

The dam maybe classified as trapezoidal section & arch type.

Construction material
The materials used for constructing dams are earth, rock pieces, stone

According to structural design the dam maybe classified as: Gravity dam,
Arch dam, Buttress dam.

Types of Dams
Dams are of three different types;
a) Fill dams
These consist of Earth dams and rock fill dams.
Earth fill Dams; earth fill dam, also called Earth Dam, or Embankment Dam, are
dams built up by compacting successive layers of earth, using the most
impervious materials to form a core and placing more permeable substances on
the upstream and downstream sides. A facing of crushed stone prevents erosion
by wind or rain, and an ample spillway, usually of concrete.

Rock fill dam; a rock fill dam is a type of embankment dam which comprises
primarily compacted rock materials. Used in mountainous locations where rock
is available.

b) Masonry Dams
Masonry dams are further subdivided into Gravity dams, Buttress dams and Arch
Solid Gravity dam; Resist the pressure of water by its weight. Construction of
material used for his dam, is solid masonry or concrete.

Buttress Dams; these are gravity dams reinforced by structural supports. A

buttress dam or hollow dam is a dam with a solid, water-tight upstream side
that is supported at intervals on the downstream side by a series of buttresses or
supports. The dam wall may be straight or curved. Most buttress dams are made
of reinforced concrete and are heavy, pushing the dam into the ground. Water
pushes against the dam, but the buttresses are inflexible and prevent the dam
from falling over. Buttress-a support that transmits a force from a roof or wall
to another supporting structure. It has a relatively thin structure. Because of this,
these dams often use half as much concrete as gravity dams can be used for
weaker foundation.

Arch dams; an arch dam is a solid dam made of concrete that is curved
upstream in plan. The arch dam is designed so that the force of the water against
it, known as hydrostatic pressure, presses against the arch, compressing and
strengthening the structure as it pushes into its foundation or abutments.

An arch dam is most suitable for narrow gorges or canyons with steep walls of
stable rock to support the structure and stresses .Since they are thinner than any
other dam type, they require much less construction material, making them
economical and practical in remote areas.
4. Spillway
A spillway is an integral part of a Dam. Since excess accumulation of water
endangers the stability of dam construction, the spillway serves to release pressure
from the dam. Also in order to avoid the overflow of water out of the dam especially
during rainy seasons spillways are provided. This prevents the rise of water level in
the dam.
Spillways are normally composed of three major components;
The approach facility admits flow to the spillway.
The discharging conduit evacuates the flow from the approach facility to an outlet
The outlet structure (tail water channel) dissipates the excessive energy of the flow
from the discharging conduits and conveys tranquil flow to the downstream.

Types of Spillways
a) Overflow spillways
Overflow spillways are also called ogee-shaped (S-shaped) spillways. This type of
spillways allows the passage of the flood wave over its crest (which is S-shaped).
Overflow spillways can be classified under controlled or uncontrolled. They are
widely used on Gravity dams, Arch dams, and Buttress dams.
b) Chute Spillways
Chute spillways are common and basic in design as they transfer excess water
from behind the dam down a smooth decline into the river below. The spillways
slope and its sides are lined with concrete. In case of having sufficient stiff
foundation conditions at the spillway location, a chute spillway may be used
instead of overflow spillway due to economic consideration.
c) Side Channel Spillways
It is employed when valley is too narrow incase of solid gravity dams and when
non rigid dams are adopted. The side channel spillway is different from chute
spillway in the sense that after crossing over the spillway crest. Water flows
parallel to the crest length in former, whereas the flow is normal to the crest in the
d) Saddle Spillways
There may be natural depressions or saddle on the periphery of the reservoir basin
away from the dam. The depressions may be used as spillway. The bottom of the
depression should be at full reservoir level.
e) Siphon Spillways
Crest is fixed at Full Reservoir Level. When the water level in the reservoir rises
over F.R.L water starts spilling over the crest.

5. Trash Rack
It is provided for preventing the debris from getting into the intakes from dam or from
the fore-bay. Trash rack is made up of steel bars. The spacing of bars depends upon
the type of turbine, Size of floating material and Velocity of flow through trash rack.
6. Gate
A gate is used to regulate or control the flow of water from the dam.

7. Surge tanks
A Surge tank is a small reservoir or tank in which the water level rises or falls due to
sudden changes in pressure.
Purpose of surge tank:
To serve as a supply tank to the turbine when the water in the pipe is
accelerated during increased load conditions and as a storage tank when the
water is decelerating during reduced load conditions.
by reducing the water-hammer effect on penstock and also protect the
upstream tunnel from high pressure rise.

Water-hammer effect:
The water hammer is defined as the change in pressure rapidly above or below normal
pressure caused by sudden change in the rate of water flow through the pipe,
according to the demand of prime mover i.e. turbine.
8. Waterways
Water ways are the passages, through which the water is conveyed to the turbines
from the dam. These may include tunnels, canals, flumes, fore-bays and penstocks
and also surge tanks.
A fore-bay is an enlarged passage for drawing the water from the reservoir or the river
and giving it to the pipe lines or canals.
9. Turbines
Turbines are used to convert the energy water of falling water into mechanical energy.
Water turbine is a rotary engine that takes energy from moving water. Flowing water
is directed on to the blades of a turbine runner, creating a force on the blades. Since
the runner is spinning, the force acts through a distance and this way, energy is
transferred from the water flow to the turbine.
Turbines are of two types;
a) Impulse Turbines: These are mainly used in high head plants. Pressure energy of
water is converted to kinetic energy when passing through nozzle and forms
velocity of high head. Examples are Pelton wheel, Turgo and Cross flow turbine
b) Reaction Turbines: These are used in low head plants. Water pressure combined
with the velocity works on the runner, power is developed from the combined
action of pressure and velocity of water, which completely fill the runner and
water passage. Examples are Francis and Kaplan turbines.
10. The Powerhouse

The power house is a building in which the generators, alternators and the auxiliary
plant are housed. Some important items of equipment provided in the power house are
as follows:
Relief valve for penstock setting
Gate valve
Switch board equipment and instruments
Oil circuit breaker
Storage batteries
Outgoing connections
11. Draft Tube
It allows the turbine to be set above tail water level, without loss of head, to facilitate
inspection and maintenance. It regains, by diffuser action, the major portion of the
kinetic energy delivered to it from the runner.
Conical Type: used on low powered units for all specific speeds and frequently od
large head units. Side angle 4 to 6 deg.
Elbow Type: Mostly used, vertical portion is a conical section which gradually
flattens in the elbow section and then discharges horizontally.