Do you know when was hydro energy was invented and when was the first hydroelectric energy is used to work? Similarly, do you know how hydropower plants are classified?
In this article we are going to study all related to hydro energy.
What’s in it for me?
- A brief history of hydro Energy
- What is Hydro Energy?
- Classification of hydropower plants
- Different types of hydro turbines
- Hydro turbine’s principle of operation
- Advantages of Hydro Power
- Disadvantages of Hydro Power
A brief history of hydro Energy
In China during 202 BC and 9 AD, the use of water power is started. When Helve hammer powered by water wheel was used to pounding, decorticating, and polishing of grains.
Before hydroelectricity, we were using the power of running water for powering mills sometimes to power the furnaces and early paper-making factories.
In other words, hydro energy had played a critical role in pushing the economy back in the 16th century.
Cromford Mill is the world’s first water-powered cotton spinning mill, Richard Arkwright in 1771 developed this mill in Cromford, England.
However in the 19th century, the major development in hydro energy took place, In 1827 French engineer Benoit Fourneyron invented a hydro energy powered water turbine capable of producing around 6 horsepower.
Then in 1849 British–American engineer James Francis developed the Francis turbine which is a widely used water turbine in the world.
American inventor Lester Allan Pelton then developed the Pelton wheels an impulse turbine in 1880.
After that Kaplan turbine which is a propeller-type turbine having adjustable blades was first invented by Austrian professor Viktor Kaplan in 1913.
The world first hydroelectric machine was used to power a single lamp in the Cragside country house in Northumberland, England was invented by William Armstrong in 1878.
After that use of hydro energy take a leap as it spread like a fire in the whole world. Germany producing its first three-phase hydro-electric system in 1891 than Australia launching the first publicly owned plant in the Southern Hemisphere in 1895.
Indian hydro energy history
India builds its first hydroelectric power station in 1897 at foothill or Arya Tea Estate, Darjeeling, known as Sidrapong hydroelectric power station or Sidrapong hydel power station.
Firstly Installed capacity was 2X65 KW which was made 1000 KW in 1916 and in 1931 old machinery was replaced to triple phase transmission for more efficiency.
The world’s largest hydroelectric plant of that time, Edward Dean Adams Power Plant was at Niagara Falls in 1895.
What is Hydro Energy?
Hydro energy is a form of renewable energy that uses the kinetic energy of moving water to generate electricity. Using this hydro energy when we generate electricity we call it Hydropower or hydroelectricity.
Hydro energy power plants generate electricity using turbines and electromagnetic generators, where the mechanical energy of moving water rotates the turbine.
This turbine is connected to an electromagnetic generator, which produces electricity.
Hydropower is so versatile and flexible that it can give power to a single home and at its largest can supply power to the whole industry.
Classification of hydropower plants
According to the capacity of the plant
On the basis hydraulic head
- High – Power plant working at a hydraulic head greater than 300 meters.
- Medium – Power plant working at hydraulic head between 30-300 meters.
- Low – Power plant working lesser than 30 meters hydraulic head.
According to Purpose
- Single-purpose – Water outlet from a single hydropower plant is allowed back to the river or not uses to generate electricity.
- Multi-purpose – Two or more hydropower plants are in series as outlet water from first hydropower plant use as an inlet to 2nd power plant to generate electricity.
Depending upon facility type
- Run of the river – Water streamflow is used as it comes no storage is provided.
- Reservoir – Provision of water storage from a large reservoir that assures constant flow unlike Run of river type.
- In-Stream – Also known as Zero hydraulic head as powered by the kinetic energy of flowing water (Stream) instead of the potential energy of water hydraulic head.
- Pumped storage – The water drive to a higher reservoir from the lower reservoir at the time of low electricity demand and when demand increases the water will start flowing from a higher reservoir to a lower reservoir to spin the turbine and generate electricity.
- Offshore hydropower – Less explored type, in this power of waves or water currents, convert into electricity, no use of land.
According to hydrological relation
- Single – The whole purpose of the hydropower plant is to generate electricity.
- Cascade – Hydro energy plants also use for irrigation, flood control, or fishery other than electricity generation.
According to the power transmission system
- Isolated – Hydropower plants are set in a remote area to fulfill the local demand.
- Connected to the grid – Hydropower plants are set to meet the demand of area at a distance from the plant therefore the power transmitted through the grid.
Different types of hydro turbines.
- Francis Turbine – Used when the available head is between 10-300 meters.
- Kaplan Turbine – Used when the available head is up to 30 meters.
- Propeller Turbine – Used when the available head is up to 15 meters.
- Pelton Turbine – Used when the available head is 300 meters and above.
Francis turbines are the most commonly used hydro turbine in hydropower plants.
The edges of the fancies turbines are called runner when inlet water strikes the runner pushes the blades and water flows toward the axis of the turbine.
Draft tube (Outlet opening) is under the turbine water escaped through this draft tube.
Kaplan turbines are similar to the propeller turbine however the only difference is blades of Kaplan turbines are adjustable they get to set their position according to the inlet flow of water.
Because of this it is very suitable in Run of the river type hydropower plants where the flow is not constant.
Propeller turbines are used where the available head is very low since these turbines can rotate at very high speed they compensate on the low head.
In Pelton turbines cup-shaped buckets are there on the rim and water passes through this bucket to rotate the turbine. When double cups are there on the rim instead of single cups then it is Turgo turbine.
Hydro turbine’s principle of operation
The high velocity of the single or multiple water jets drives these turbines.
For Example – the Pelton, the Turgo, and the Crossflow turbine.
These turbines are fully drown into the water inside the pressure casing.
The profile of the runner is such that the pressure difference occurs around it possess the lift force on the runner and causes the rotation faster than the use of the water jet in impulse turbine.
For Example – the propeller turbine (with Kaplan variant) and the Francis turbine.
These turbines are driven by the weight of the water coming from the top of the turbine this is the slower moving among others.
For Example – Archimedes Screw and the overshot waterwheel
Advantages of Hydro Power
- Hydro energy is a Renewable source so it will never run out.
- Emission-free as no harmful gases produced during hydropower generation.
- Most importantly hydro energy is a reliable energy source among all renewable energy sources as water flows 24/7.
- Hydropower is an adjustable energy source as it can adjust as per the requirements varies.
- However, reservoirs can act as a lake and can be used for many other purposes like irrigation, tourism, fishery, water sports, etc.
- A very important factor of hydropower is when it comes to the cost of operation and maintenance it is cheap.
- Hydropower reservoirs act as a flood control as well.
Disadvantages of Hydro Power
- Firstly, most of the hydropower plants are across the river it can disturb aquatic life. It is more likely to happen than fish or other water animals can go to the turbines through the inlet and can kill themselves. This could drastically bring down the aquatic life.
- Secondly, to construct a dam across the river and built hydropower plant and its transmission system required a very large piece of land and for the same sometimes forests need to clean up which eventually impact the ecosystem
- thirdly, the cost of the initial construction and complete hydropower plant structure is very huge.
- In addition, construction of a complete hydropower plant takes a large piece of the land it forces relocation of villages. This can lead to a chaotic situation and it is very difficult to Handel.
- A classic example of it is, when the hydropower project was known as ‘’Sardar Sarovar.” planed by the government of India, The government was unable to address the critical issue of relocation of 1000 of people who could get affected by the project and that leads to the biggest protest in the history of India, in which large numbers of protest marches, hunger strikes and gruesome police attacks on protesters took place.
- High-quality construction material required while the construction of the dam as nobody wants to face the consequences of dam breakage. However, the breakage of the dam leads to huge flooding which can cause a very severe effect on humans, animals, and nature. Banqiao dam breakage in china led to the death of 1, 71,00 people, and left millions of other homeless.
- Above all the building of dams can cause serious geological damages.
However, still building dams can be a bigger challenge in certain locations. That’s why it is very important to consider the pros and cons of the hydro energy before planning to build one.
In conclusion, while adopting new technologies we will surely face different challenges but we must think about the after-effects on the environment and people living near such power plants.
Also Read :
Hydropower has slowly faded from the discourse on the future of India’s energy security because of solar and wind projects garner much of the attention. India’s installed hydro capacity at the end of 2018 was around 45,400 MW, an annual growth of just 1%.
The Koyna Hydroelectric Project is the largest completed hydroelectric power plant in India. It is a project with four dams including the largest dam on the Koyna River, Maharashtra hence the name Koyna Hydroelectric Project.
Hydropower is fueled by water and so it’s a clean fuel source. Therefore it won’t pollute the air like power plants that burn fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas.
My name is Vivek Rawool. I am extremely motivated to constantly develop my skills and grow professionally. I have completed my BE Mechanical Degree from Mumbai University and currently working with Paramount India as a Sales and Marketing Engineer. I also do Share market trading and investment.