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1 Introduction of Hydropower Plant

Hydropower is a renewable energy source where power is derived from the energy of moving
water from higher to lower elevations. It is a proven, mature, predictable and price
competitive technology. Hydropower has the best conversion efficiency of all known energy
sources (about 90% efficiency, water to wire). It also has the highest energy payback ratio.
Hydropower requires relatively high initial investment, but has the advantage of very low
operation costs and a long lifespan. Life-cycle costs are deemed low.
The total worldwide technically feasible potential for hydropower generation is 14,368 TWh
with a corresponding estimated total capacity potential of 3,838 GW; five times the current
installed capacity. Undeveloped capacity ranges from about 70 percent in Europe and North
America to 95 percent in Africa indicating large opportunities for hydropower development
worldwide. The resource potential for hydropower could change due to a changing climate.
Global effects on existing hydropower systems will however probably be small, even if
individual countries and regions could have significant changes in positive or negative
direction. Hydropower has been a catalyst for economic and social development of several
According to the World Bank, large hydropower projects can have important multiplier
effects creating an additional 40-100 cents of indirect benefits for every dollar of value
generated. Hydropower can serve both in large centralized and small isolated grids. Nearly
two billion people in rural areas of developing countries do not have electricity. Small hydro
can easily be implemented and integrated into local ecosystems and might be one of the best
options for rural electrification for instance in isolated grids, while large urban areas and
industrial scale grids need the flexibility and reliability of large hydro.
Hydropower is available in a broad range of projects scales and types. Projects are usually
designed to suit particular needs and specific site conditions. Those can be classified by
project type, head, purpose and size (installed capacity). Size wise categories are different
worldwide due to varying development policies in different countries.
As hydropower does not consume the water that drives the turbines, this renewable resource
is available for various other uses essential for human subsistence. In fact, a significant
proportion of hydropower projects are designed for multiple purposes. About the third of all
hydropower projects takes on various other functions aside from generating electricity. They
prevent or mitigate floods and droughts, they provide the possibility to irrigate agriculture, to
supply water for domestic, municipal and industrial use as well as they can improve
conditions for navigation, fishing, tourism or leisure activities.
2.2 Types of Hydropower Plant
Hydropower engineering deals with mostly two forms of energy and suggest methods for
converting the energy of water into electric energy. In nature, a flowing stream of water
dissipates throughout the length of the watercourse and is of little use for power generation.
To make the flowing water do work usefully for some purpose like power generation (it has
been used to drive water wheels to grind grains at many hilly regions for years), it is
necessary to create a head at a point of the stream and to convey the water through the head
to the turbines which will transform the energy of the water into mechanical energy to be
further converted to electrical energy by generators. The necessary head can be created in
different ways of which two have been practically accepted.

These are:
1. Building a dam across a stream to hold back water and release it through a channel,
conduit or a tunnel (figure 1)
2. Divert a part of the stream by creating a low-head diversion structure like barrage
(figure 2).

Hydroelectric plants are classified commonly by their hydraulic characteristics, that

is, with respect to the water flowing through the turbines that run the generators.
1. Run-of-river schemes
These are hydropower plants that utilize the stream flow as it comes, without any
storage being provided (Figure6a). Generally, these plants would be feasible only on
such streams which have a minimum dry weather flow of such magnitude which
makes it possible to generate electricity throughout the year. Since the flow would
vary throughout the year, they would run during the monsoon flows and would
otherwise remain shut during low flows. During off-peak hours of electricity demand,
as in the night, some of the units may be closed and the water conserved in the storage
space, which is again released during peak hours for power generation.
2. Storage schemes

Hydropower plants with storage are supplied with water from large storage reservoir
(Figure 6c) that have been developed by constructing dams across rivers. Generally,
the excess flow of the river during monsoon would be stored in the reservoir to be
released gradually during periods of lean flow. Naturally, the assured flow for
hydropower generation is more certain for the storage schemes than the run-of-river
3. Pumped-Storage schemes
Hydropower schemes of the pumped-storage type are those which utilize the flow of
water from a reservoir at higher potential to one at lower potential (Figure 6d). The
upper reservoir (also called the head-water pond) and the lower reservoir (called the
tail-water pond) may both be constructed by providing suitable structure across a
river. During times of peak load, water is drawn from the head-water pond to run the
reversible turbine-pump units in the turbine mode. The water released gets collected
in the tail-water pond. During off-peak hours, the reversible units are supplied with
the excess electricity available in the power grid which then pumps part of the water
of the tail-water pond back into the head-water reservoir. The excess electricity in the
grid is usually the generation of the thermal power plants which are in continuous
running mode. However, during night, since the demand of electricity becomes
drastically low and the thermal power plants can not switch off or start immediately,
there a large amount of excess power is available at that time.

4. Tidal power development schemes

These are hydropower plants which utilize the rise in water level of the sea due to a
tide, as shown in Figure 11. During high tide, the water from the sea-side starts rising,
and the turbines start generating power as the water flows into the bay. As the sea
water starts falling during low tide the water from the basin flows back to the sea
which can also be used to generate power provided another set of turbines in the
opposite direction are installed. Turbines which generate electricity for either
direction of flow may be installed to take advantage of the flows in both directions.

Hydroelectric power plants are also sometimes classified according to the head of
water causing the turbines to rotate.
1. Low head power plant: A power station that is operating under heads less than 30m
2. Medium head power plant: A power station operating under heads from 30m to
300m. Of course, the limits are not exactly defined and sometimes the upper limit for
medium head power station may be taken as 200 to 250m. (Figure 13)
3. High head power station: A power station operating under heads above about 300m.
A head of 200m/250m is considered as the limit between medium and high head
power stations. (Figure 14).

Hydropower plants according to their operating functions as follows:

1. Base load power plant: A power station operating continuously at a constant or
nearly constant power and which operates at relating high load factors. It caters to
power demand at base of the load curve.
2. Peak load power plant: A power station that is primarily designed for the purpose of
operating to supply the peak load of a power system. This type of power station is
also, therefore, termed as Peaking station.
According to Mosonyi (1991), hydropower plants can also be classified according to
plant capacity as follows:
1. Midget plant: up to 100KW
2. Low-capacity plant up to 1,000KW
3. Medium capacity plant up to 10,000KW
4. High capacity plant > 10,000KW
2.3 Parts of Hydropower Plant
Most hydropower plants rely on a dam that holds back water, creating a large reservoir. The
dam is an integral part of the power plant. It is what controls the water; by damming up the
water, the amount of water used to create power can be determined. When building a power
plant from the ground up, the building of the dam would be the first step. Building a dam
requires much research, approval, time, and money. The geology of the area must be taken
into account (as was mentioned previously) so to avoid collapse due to geologic activity
such as earthquakes. The size of the retention basin, or where the water sits behind the dam,
must also be considered. Flow rate of the river and sediment load must also be determined
in order to establish an estimate on the dam lifetime. If the river carries a large sediment
load, sediment will build up behind the dam more quickly than if there is less of a load.
There are also mitigation techniques for removing sediment that can be considered for the
project to lengthen lifetime. The dam also must go through an extensive approval and
permit process.
The intake is the entrance to the system for the water. The inlet valves and control gate
control how much water is going to enter the system. There are a number of different inlet
valve designs. The next step is the intake weir and where the water will enter the power
plant. The weir also is responsible for diverting the water. It also must help keep solid
material from entering the system. Three examples of intakes are the side intake without
weir, side intake with weir, and bottom intake. A side intake without a weir is relatively
cheap requiring no complex machinery, but asks for regular maintenance and repairs. At low
flows very little water will be diverted so this type of intake is not suitable for rivers with
great fluctuations in flow. The side intake with weir is a set-up in which the weir can be
partially or completely submerged in the water. This design requires little maintenance but
low flow cannot be diverted properly. The weir is completely submerged in the third design,
the bottom intake. It is very useful with fluctuating flows and allows excess water to pass
over the weir.
The Penstock is a tunnel that caries the water from the intake to the turbines. There are a
number of factors to consider when deciding which material to use in the building of the
penstock. They are: surface roughness, design pressure, method of jointing, weight and ease
of installation, accessibility of the site, terrain, soil type, design life and maintenance,
weather conditions, availability, relative cost, and likelihood of structural damage. When

considering soil type, you have to choose a material that will not be degraded or eroded by
the surrounding soil. Economically speaking, the penstock can account for up to 40% of
total cost of the plant. This is why efficient planning is critical.
Once the water flows down the penstock, it passes and turns the turbines. There are a
number of different models of turbines depending on which company the turbine is
purchased from. However, there are common designs. Two different types of turbines are
impulse and reaction turbines. Impulse turbines include Pelton, Turgo, cross-flow, and multi
jet Pelton designs. Reaction turbines include the Francis, propeller, and Kaplan turbines.
Generators, Transformers, and Electricity Production
Water flows through the turbine to turn it and its shaft to create mechanical energy that is
transformed into electrical energy by the generators and transformers. There are four major
components to the generator; they are the shaft, exciter, rotor, and stator. The water turns the
turbine, which turns the shaft and causes the exciter to send an electrical current to the rotor.
The rotor is comprised of a series of large electromagnets that spin inside the stator, which
is a tightly wound coil of copper wire. This process creates a magnetic field, which creates
an alternating current, AC, by the moving of electrons. The transformer then converts the
AC to a higher voltage current. The generator and transformer sit in what is known as the
powerhouse. This is the main building of the hydropower plant. From the powerhouse there
are four main wires that leave. There are three for the three phases of produced power and a
ground wire common to the other three. These power lines are connected to the regional
power grid (How Stuff Works, inc). The last component to the system is the tailrace. The
tailrace is simply the pipelines that carry the water back out to the river.

2.4 Efficiency of Hydropower Plant

The potential for energy production in a hydropower plant will be determined by
these main parameters given by the hydrology, topography and design of the power
1) The amount of water available, QT (Million m3 of water pr year = Mm3/year)
2) Water loss due to flood spill, bypass requirements or leakage, QL (Mm3/year)
3) The difference in head between upstream intake and downstream outlet, Hgr (m)
4) Hydraulic losses in water transport due to friction and velocity change, HL (m)
5) The efficiency in energy conversion in electromechanical equipment,

When these parameters are given, the total average annual energy, Ea (GWh/year) that
can be produced in the power plant can be calculated by the formula ( is density of
water in kg/m3 , g is the acceleration of gravity of 9.81 ms-2 and C is a unit
conversion factor):
Ea = (QT QL) (Hgr HL) g C (GWh/year)
The total amount of water available at the intake (QT) will usually not be possible to
utilize in the turbines because some of the water (QL) will be lost. This loss occurs
because of spill during high flows when inflow exceeds the turbine capacity, because
of bypass releases for environmental flows and because of leakage. In the hydropower
plant the potential (gravitational) energy in water is transformed into kinetic energy
and then mechanical energy in the turbine and further to electrical energy in the
The energy transformation process in modern hydropower plants is highly efficient,
usually with well over 90% mechanical efficiency in turbines and over 99% in the
generator. Old turbines can have lower efficiency, and it can also be reduced due to
wear and abrasion caused by sediments in the water. The rest of the potential energy
(100- ) is lost as heat in the water and in the generator. In addition, there will be
some energy losses in the head-race section where water flows from the intake to the
turbines, and in the tail-race section taking water from the turbine back to the river
downstream. These losses, called head loss (HL), will reduce the head and hence the
energy potential for the power plant. These losses can be classified either as friction
losses or singular losses. Friction losses in tunnels, pipelines and penstocks will
depend mainly on water velocity and the roughness. The total efficiency of a
hydropower plant will be determined by the sum of these three loss components. Loss
of water can be reduced by increasing the turbine capacity or by increasing the
reservoir capacity to get better regulation of the flow. Head losses can be reduced by
increasing the area of head-race and tail-race, by decreasing the roughness in these
and by avoiding too many changes in flow velocity and direction. The efficiency in
electromechanical equipment, especially in turbines, can be improved by better design
and also by selecting a turbine type with an efficiency profile that is best adapted to
the duration curve of the inflow.
2.5 Typical impacts and possible mitigation measures
Although the type and magnitude of impacts will vary from project to project, it is
possible to describe some typical effects, along with the experience that has been
gained throughout the past decades in managing and solving problems. Though some
impacts are unavoidable, they can be minimized or compensated for, as experience in
successful mitigation demonstrates. By far the most effective measure is impact
avoidance, by weeding out less sustainable alternatives early in the design stage. All
hydroelectric structures affect a rivers ecology mainly by inducing a change in its
hydrologic characteristics and by disrupting the ecological continuity of sediment
transport and fish migration through the building of dams, dikes and weirs. However
the extent to which a rivers physical, chemical and biological characteristics are
modifi ed depends largely on the type of HPP. Whereas run-of-river HPPs do not alter
a rivers flow regime, the creation of a reservoir for storage hydropower entails a
major environmental change by transforming a fast-running fl uvial ecosystem into a
still-standing lacustrine one. The extent to which a hydropower project has adverse

impacts on the riverbed morphology, on water quality and on fauna and flora is highly
site-specific and to a certain degree dependent on what resources can be invested into
mitigation measures.
Hydrological regimes
A hydropower project may modify a rivers flow regime if the project includes a
reservoir. Run-of-river projects change the rivers flow pattern marginally, thus
creating fewer impacts downstream from the project. Hydropower plants with
reservoirs significantly modify the downstream flow regime (i.e., the magnitude and
timing of discharge and hence water levels), and may also alter water temperature
over short stretches downstream. Some RoR hydropower projects with river
diversions may
alter flows along the diversion routes. Physical and biological changes are related to
such variations in water level, timing and temperature. Major changes in the flow
regime may also cause changes in the rivers estuary, where the extent of salt water
intrusion depends on the freshwater discharge. The slope, current velocity and water
depth are also important factors influencing sediment-carrying capacity and erosion.
The construction of a major dam decreases in general the sediment loading to river
The change in the annual flow pattern may affect significantly natural aquatic and
terrestrial habitats in the river and along the shore. The disappearance of heavy natural
floods as the result of regulating watercourses alters the natural lifecycle of the
floodplains located downstream from the structure. This may affect vegetation species
and community structure, which in turn affect the mammalian and avian fauna. On the
other hand, frequent (daily or weekly) fluctuations in the water level downstream
from a hydropower reservoir and a tailrace area might create problems for both
mammals and birds. Sudden water releases could not only drown animals and wash
away waterfowl nests, but also represent a public security issue for other water users.
The magnitude of these changes can be mitigated by proper power plant operation and
discharge management, regulating ponds, information and warning systems as well as
access limitations. A thorough flow-management program can prevent loss of habitats
and resources. Further possible mitigation measures might be the release of controlled
floods in critical periods and building of weirs in order to maintain water levels in
with reduced flow or to prevent salt intrusion from the estuary.
Reservoir creation
Creating a reservoir entails not only the transformation of a terrestrial ecosystem into
an aquatic one, it also makes important modifications to river flow regimes by
transforming a relatively fast-flowing water course into a still-standing water body: an
artificial lake. For this reason, the most suitable site for a reservoir needs to be
thoroughly studied, as the most effective impact avoidance action is to limit the extent
of flooding on the basis of technical, economic, social and environmental
considerations. Fluctuations in water levels often lead to erosion of the reservoir
shoreline (draw-down zone) and along the downstream riverbanks. Measures to
promote vegetation or erosion control following reservoir impoundment include bank
restoration, riparian vegetation enhancement, installation of protective structures (e.g.,

gravel embankments, riprap, gabions) as well as bioengineering for shore protection

and enhancement.
The creation of a reservoir causes profound changes in fish habitats. Generally, the
transformation of a river into a lake favors species that are adapted to still-standing
waters to the detriment of those species requiring faster flowing water. Due to the
high phytoplankton productivity of reservoirs, the fish biomass tends to increase
overall. However, the impacts of reservoirs on fish species may only be perceived as
positive if species are of commercial value or appreciated for sport and subsistence
fishing. If water quality proves to be inadequate, measures to enhance the quality of
other water bodies for valued species should be considered in cooperation with
affected communities. Other options to foster the development of fish communities
and fisheries in and beyond the reservoir zone are, for example, to create spawning
and rearing habitat; to install fish incubators; to introduce fish farming technologies;
to stock fish species of commercial interest that are well adapted to reservoirs as long
as this is compatible with the conservation of biodiversity within the reservoir and
does not conflict with native species; to develop facilities for fish harvesting,
processing and marketing; to build access roads, ramps and landing areas or to cut
trees prior to impoundment along navigation corridors and fishing sites; to provide
navigation maps and charts; and to recover floating debris. As reservoirs replace
terrestrial habitats, it is also important to protect and/or recreate the types of habitats
lost through inundation. In general, long-term compensation and enhancement
measures have turned out to be beneficial. Further possible mitigation measures might
be to protect areas and wetlands that have an equivalent or better ecological value
than the land lost; to preserve valuable land bordering the reservoir for ecological
purposes and erosion prevention; to conserve
flooded emerging forest in some areas for brood-rearing waterfowl; to enhance the
habitat of reservoir islands for conservation purposes; to develop or enhance nesting
areas for birds and nesting platforms for raptors; to practice selective wood cutting for
herbivorous mammals; and to implement wildlife rescue and management plans.
Water quality
In some densely populated areas with rather poor water quality, RoR hydropower
plants are regularly used to improve oxygen levels and filter tons of floating waste out
of the river, or to reduce high water temperature levels from thermal power generating
outlets. However, maintaining the water quality of reservoirs is often a challenge, as
constitute a focal point for the river basin catchment. In cases where municipal,
industrial and agricultural waste waters entering the reservoir are exacerbating water
quality problems, it might be relevant that proponents and stakeholders cooperate in
the context of an appropriate land and water use plan encompassing the whole
catchment area, preventing, for example, excessive usage of fertilizers and pesticides.
Water quality issues related to reservoirs depend on several factors: climate, reservoir
morphology and depth, water retention time in the reservoir, water quality of
tributaries, quantity and composition of the inundated soil and vegetation, and rapidity
of impounding, which affects the quantity of biomass available over time. Also, the

operation of the HPP and thus the reservoir can significantly affect water quality, both
negatively and positively.
Water quality issues can often be managed by site selection and appropriate design,
taking the future reservoir morphology and hydraulic characteristics into
consideration. The primary goals are to reduce the submerged area and to minimize
water retention in the reservoir. The release of poor-quality water (due to thermal
stratification, turbidity and temperature changes both within and downstream of the
reservoir) may be reduced by the use of selective or multi-level water intakes. This
may also help to reduce oxygen depletion and the volume of anoxic waters. Since the
absence of oxygen may contribute to the formation of methane during the first few
years after impoundment, especially in warm climates, measures to prevent the
formation of anoxic reservoir zones will also help mitigate potential methane
The sediment-carrying capacity of a river depends on its hydrologic characteristics
(slope, current velocity, water depth), the nature of the sediments in the riverbed and
the material available in the catchment. In general, a rivers sediment load is
composed of sediments from the riverbed and sediments generated by erosion in the
drainage basin.
Dams reduce current velocity and the slope of the water body. The result is a decrease
in sediment-carrying capacity. Flow reduction contributes to lower sediment transport
capacity and increased sediment deposition, which could lead to the raising of
riverbed and an increase in flood risk. The scope of the impact depends on the natural
sediment load of the river basin, which varies according to geomorphologic
composition of the riverbed, as well as the soil composition and the vegetation
coverage of the drainage basin. Rivers with large sediment loads are found mainly in
arid and semi-arid or mountainous regions with fine soil composition. A World Bank
study (Mahmood, 1987) estimated that about 0.5 to 1% of the total freshwater storage
capacity of existing reservoirs is lost each year due to sedimentation. Similar
conditions were also reported by WCD (2000) and ICOLD (2004). Climate change
may affect sediment generation, transport processes, sediment flux in a river and
sedimentation in reservoirs, due to changes in hydrological processes and, in
particular, floods.
Biological diversity
Although existing literature related to ecological effects of river regulations on
wildlife is extensive, the knowledge is mainly restricted to and based on
environmental impact assessments. A restricted number of long-term studies have
been carried out that enable predictions of species-specific effects of hydropower
development on fish, mammals and birds. In general, four types of environmental
disturbances are singled out:
Habitat changes;
Geological and climatic changes;
Direct mortality; and
Increased human use of the area.
Most predictions are, however, very general and only able to focus on the type of
change, without quantifying the short- and long-term effects. Thus, it is generally

realized that current knowledge cannot provide a basis for precise predictions. The
impacts are, however, highly species-, site-, seasonal- and construction-specific.
The most serious causes of ecological effects from hydropower development on
wildlife are, in general:
Permanent loss of habitat and special biotopes through inundation;
Loss of flooding;
Fluctuating water levels (and habitat change);
Introduction and dispersal of exotic species; and
Obstacles to fish migration.

Kumar, Arun, dkk. 2009. Hydropower. In IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy
Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Cambridge University Press,
Mosonyi, Emil (1991) Water power development, Akademia Budapest.
Castaldi, Duane. 2003. A Study of Hydroelectric Power: From a Global Perspective to
a Local Application. College of Earth and Mineral Sciences The Pennsylvania
State University.