How Do Hydropower Plants Produce Energy?
Hydropower plant uses the pressure of water to generate electricity. The water pressure turns turbines, so let’s learn about the components responsible for transferring water from the reservoir to the turbines that light up your home.
Consider forebay, the initial collection area for the water pool. It is where the water is stored before it is transferred to the intake chamber. So, the amount of water to be stored in the forebay factors the water requirement. It is based on the respective demand in the area. The same forebay is used when the load requirement is less.
The reservoirs are built around the river to store water. When water needs to be taken upstream from the dam’s side, then a reservoir comes to the forebay.
Since reservoirs are incredibly essential to power generation, we can safely coin the forebay as the foundation of a hydropower plant.
The next component is called the intake structure. This is where the water is stored after it has been released from the forebay. Intake structures come in different types. It depends on the structural build and location of the hydropower reservoir.
The intake structure’s most important feature is filtering the trash before entering the reservoir. The trash tracks will capture debris, plant decays, or aquatic life remains to prevent damaging water quality.
Suppose the hydropower plant has been constructed in a colder area. In that case, the intake structure will act as a barrier between water and ice. It will keep the ice at bay until it naturally melts and filters through the trash trays.
The pipes that transport water from the intake structure or reservoir to the turbines are called penstocks. These come with pressure to suddenly close or open, dependent on the height of the reservoir. Assuming the penstock doors are kept stationary, they will crack under the pressure of water collected in the reservoir.
The pipes are designed with slopes and a water-hammer effect to withstand the pressure of water. Heavy walls are built surrounding the penstock and surge tank to maintain the integrity of the penstock for more prolonged use. Moreover, being built with steel and reinforced concrete adds to their strength.
The next part utility bidders install is called the surge chamber. It is a cylindrical tank present at the top of the penstocks to control the output pressure. The penstocks are connected to the powerhouse, so it is wise not to overpower them. Since they transfer water to the turbines, any mismanagement can cause large-scale blackouts.
Assuming the turbines or the water house does not need water and rejects it, the penstock will maintain the water level until the intake reservoir rises.
Similarly, when there is demand for more water, it will discharge steady water to accommodate powerhouse requirements.
Now that you are familiar with the essential components of a hydropower plant consider building one for yourself. It won’t be at a grand scale, but it will surely be an educative experience for you and everyone involved.