Latest Hydropower Technology Trends
energycioinsights

Latest Hydropower Technology Trends

By Energy CIO Insights | Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The energy companies are adopting new technologies that can improve the efficiency of hydropower. 

FREMONT, CA : The workshop, organized by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC), focused on emerging technology developments to increase the versatility, performance, and cost-efficiency of hydropower.

Hydropower flexibility

Strategies for combating climate change require a high proportion of renewable energy sources (RES). The RES variable generation needs additional hydropower technologies to offer greater versatility over an expanded range of hydraulic conditions.

Some of the most prominent flexibility technologies being developed are stabilizer fins, an adjustable diaphragm installed in the draft tube cone, J-grooves, air injection/admission, high/low velocity and low/high discharge axial water injection, cone wall tangential water injection, counter-flow tangential component of the axial water injection, excess flow rate ejector power plants, axis-side two-phase air-water injection, hydroelectric power storage solutions, battery hybrids, and intelligent modeling and control solutions to increase the flexibility and operating range of the unit.

Hydropower digitalization

Real-world data collection and processing to change the actual working conditions for hydropower turbines will offer advanced grid support services without sacrificing stations' efficiency and security. It is projected that a total of 42 TWh could be added through hydropower digitalization to the current output of hydropower electricity. Such an increase could contribute to USD 5 billion in annual operating savings and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Generators with current-controlled rotors

Novel power electronics with current-controlled power supplies, for example, during start and stop phases, will ensure better control of electrical machines. The Frades II hydropower plant in Portugal, for example, is fitted with two pump turbines, and an AC-excitation system controls the rotor power of the induction motor-generator.

Novel small-scale hydropower technologies

In mini-grid and rural electrification strategies, small-scale hydropower plays an important role. Novel gravity hydraulic machine designs (such as water wheels and Archimedes screws) and turbines (such as low head turbines and hydrokinetic turbines) and innovative pump-as-turbine (PAT) designs and operating strategies are being introduced. PATs are standard pumps that can work in turbine mode as well. In the form of PAT under development, additional designs include the Deriaz turbine, although the Deriaz turbine is typically used in large hydropower plants.

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