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Chapter: one

Classification of hydropower plants

Hydroelectric power plant show a great

deal of variety. They can be classified on

the basis of :
location and topographical features,
the presence or absence of
the range of operating head,
In some project, the main objective
is not only the power production but
also for different purposes such as:
water supply,

flood control, etc.

I. Classification based on the hydraulic features
Based on the hydraulic principle in the
basic design, hydroelectric plants can be
categorized into the four types:
Conventional hydroelectric plants: It
utilize the normal available hydraulic
energy of the flowing water of rivers.
Dams are constructed to collect the water

and used for electricity production.

Pumped storage plants: are used for

meeting the peak demand.

Such plants utilize the concept of
recycling the same water by pumping
the water back during off peak hours.
Tiadal power plants: It utilizes the

Tiadal energy of sea waters.

Depression power plants: It is a rare type

of hydroelectric plant where hydropower

is generated by diverting an sufficient
amount of water such as seawater into a
natural topographical depression that
provides operating head for the plant.
II. Classification on the basis of operation of load
A hydroelectric plant can be classified according to

its operation in meeting the demand such as base

load or peak load plant.
A hydroelectric plant works as a base load plant if

there is continuous power generation.

If the conditions prevailing at the power station

permit regulated release of water, plant can be used

to generate peak power.
Generally speaking, hydropower is quite suitable for

peak load operation due to its quick starting and

relative ease in picking up load.
Pumped storage plants are necessarily peak load

plants whereas run-of-river plants are the base load

III. Classification based on quantity of water available

Run-off river hydroelectric plants w/t

storage:- In the run- off river type the running
water of the river is used for the generation of
electricity. There is no facility for storing the

Whenever the water is available the plant

generates electricity and when there is no

water no power is generated.
During rainy seasons when there is

maximum flow of water available in the

rivers, they produce maximum power.
These types of hydroelectric power
plants produce the power continuously
only as long as flowing water is available.
Rub-off river hydroelectric plants with

storage:- These type of run-off river

hydroelectric power plants usually produce
the power during peak loads.
During the day time and off-peak periods they

dont produce and the water is stored in large

At night time and during peak load the stored

water is used to generate electricity.

This has been possible b/c it is to start

and stop the hydroelectric power plants,

hence they can be used as peak load
power plants.
Starting and stopping thermal and
nuclear power plants is very time
consuming, hence they cannot be used
for the peak load rather they are used for
The storage in the run-off river plants

facilitates the production of electricity at

any time since it does not depend on the
continuous flow of water.
Stored water is as good as energy that

can be used at any time.

Reservoir hydroelectric power plants:-

These plants has the capacity to store

extremely large quantities of water that can
be throughout the whole season.
The reservoir usually gets filled during the

raining season and the water lasts for the

whole year till the next summer season.
In this plants large reservoir is constructed

behind the dam wall.

Water from the reservoir is released to the

power generation via penstock. The flow of

water to penstock is controlled by the
The reservoir hydroelectric power plants

can be used as peak load plant. They

produce electricity throughout the year.
Most of the hydroelectric power plants are

the reservoir type of plants.

IV. Classification based on location and topology

A hydroelectric plant can be in hilly areas or in plains.

Plants in hilly areas are always associated with dams

whereas plants in plain areas may have only weirs for the
main structure.
In plains the rivers are usually wide with large flood plains

and may need supplementary river training works.

Knowledge about the location and topology of a plant helps
in appreciating these points.
V. Classification based on plant capacity
VI. Classification based on Head
It is to give the exact range to classify plants based on

the available head. Normally, it is classified as follows:

Low-head < 15 m
Medium-head plants 15 70 m
High head plants 71 - 250 m
Very high head plants More than 250 m

1. High head plants: due to high head, small amount of

water can produce a large amount of power. Therefore,

these type of plants are very economical.
Normally, the reservoirs are high up in the mountains and the

power house is at the foot, taking advantage of large level


The catchment area is small and if water from one stream is

not sufficient, then water from neighboring streams can be

diverted to the lake through the pipelines or tunnels.

The water is carried from main reservoir by tunnel to

powerhouse via the surge tank.

The length of conduit system may be 15 km or more. For

heads above 500m, Pelton turbines are used and Francies

turbines are common for low head.
2. Medium head plants: large volume of water is
needed in such plants compered to high head plants.
.Therefore, a reservoir of large capacity with large
catchment area is required. In these plant, water is
generally carried from main reservoir to the forebay
and then to powerhouse through the short penstocks.
.There is no need of surge tank as forebay itself acts
as surge tank.
.Generally there is one penstock per turbine. Francis,
Kaplan & Propeller type of turbine are common for
the medium head power plants.
3. Low-head plants: to generate same amount of
power in such plants, water required is much larger
than the high head power plants.
.Generally run-of-river, tidal plants and midget plants
fall into this category.
.The catchment area and the magnitude of peak flood
are very large, the spillway length being
.Francis, Kaplan or Propeller turbines are used for
low head plants. The sizes of turbine and the
powerhouse are large.
VII. Classification based on constructional features
Valley dam plants: In this plants, a dam is constructed for
storing the water. Power house is located at the toe of the dam.

No diversion of the water from main river is involved. These are

of medium to high head plants. The artificial head created will

depend on the height of the dam. There are different arrangement
of powerhouse location and spillway of the dam.

Diversion canal plants: A diversion canal with a flat slop in which

the flow from the river is diverted through the canal to powerhouse.

The water from powerhouse is drained back into the original river at

downstream point. A weir is constructed at the end of the canal to

create a small pool of water, called the forebay. The water from forebay
is fed by means of penstocks to powerhouse situated in the lower reach
of the river.
High-head diversion plants: In these plants, water is

diverted through a system of channels and tunnels.

There are two ways to achieve it,

A. Water is diverted to another neighboring river

or basin which is at a much lower level than parent

B. Water from river could be diverted along the

tunnels from an upper stream point of river to
downstream point of same river.
.High-head diversion plants are more or less similar to

low head diversion canal plants.

Inside a Hydropower Plant
General working principle Layout of Hydro electric power plant
Essential features of Hydro-Electric Power Plant

The essential features of a water

power plant are as below:
Catchment area.

Intake structure
Dam and intake house.
Water way
Power house
Tail race or outlet water way 25
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. 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.
Note: Continuous availability of
water is a basic necessity for a
3. Intake structure
Water conveyed from forebay to penstocks

through intake structures.

Main components are Trash rack and Gate.

Trash rack is provided to prevent the entry

of debris into the water passage of

hydropower plant.
The gates are provided to control the entry

of water into the penstocks.

4. Dam and Its structures
Dam: barrier to raise water for storage or
diversion to create a hydraulic head.
The purpose of the dam is to store the water

and to regulate the out going 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 capacity of

power it is necessary that a sufficient head is

The function of a hydropower dam is to

increase the elevation (head) between water

surfaces and thus the amount of kinetic
energy that can be converted into electricity
as water flows or cascades through its
Releases of water stored in the reservoir

behind a dam can be timed to boost hydro-

generation during periods of high demand.
on following factors:
a) Function
b) Shape
c) Construction material
d) Design
A) Based on function the dam may
be called as Storage dam,
Diversion dam or detention dam.
B) Based on the shape the dam may
of Trapezoidal section & Arch
C. The materials used for constructing
dams are Earth, Rock pieces and
Stone masonry.

D. According to Structural design

the dam maybe classified as:

i. Gravity dam

ii. Arch dam

Types of Dam
I. Masonry Dams, and II. Fill
I. Masonry Dam:
The masonry dams are of three major
a) Solid Gravity dam.
b) Buttress dam.
c) Arched dam.
A. Solid Gravity dam:
Resist the pressure of
water by its weight.
Construction of material
used for his dam, is solid
masonry or concrete.
Massive and bulky and
depends upon its weight on
It requires strong rock
B. Arch dam:
It resists the pressure of water partly due to
its weight and partly due to arch action.
Anarch damis a soliddammade
ofconcretethat is curved upstream in plan.
The arch dam is designed so that the force
of the water against it, known
ashydrostatic pressure, presses against the
arch, compressing and strengthening the
structure as it pushes into its foundation.
An arch dam is most suitable

steep walls of stable rock to
support the structure and
Since they are thinner than any
C. Buttress dam:
Buttress supporting a flat slab.

Abuttress damorhollow damis adamwith a solid,

water-tight upstream side that is supported at intervals
on the downstream side by a series ofbuttressesor
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
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.
When cost of reinforced concrete is high
such type of dam is selected.
II. Fill Dams
fill dams: earth fill dam,also
calledEarth Dam, or Embankment
Dam,dambuilt 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 preventserosionby

wind or rain, and an amplespillway, usually of

Arock fill damis a type
ofembankment damwhich comprises
primarily compacted rock materials.
Used in mountainous locations where
rock is available.
5. Spillway
Excess accumulation of water endangers the
stability of dam construction.
Also in order to avoid the over flow 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 passages which allows the
excess water to flow to a storage area away
from the dam.
The discharging conduit
evacuates the flow from the
approach facility to an outlet
The outlet structure (tail water

channel) dissipates the excessive

Types of spillways
1. 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).

Can be classified under controlled or

Widely used on Gravity dams, Arch dams, and

Buttress dams.
2. 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
3. Side channel spillway
It is employed when valley is too narrow in
case 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 later.
4. Saddle spillway
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.
5. Siphon spillway
Crest is fixed at Full Reservoir Level.
When the water level in the reservoir rises
over full reservoir level water starts
spilling over the crest.
6. Conduit

A headrace is a channel which leads

water to a turbine and a tailrace is a
channel which conducts water from
the wheels.
Open Conduit: Canals and Flumes
Close conduits: Tunnels, pipelines
and penstock
7. Gate
A gate is used to regulate or control
the flow of water from the dam.
8. Pressure tunnel:
It is a passage that carries water
from the reservoir to the surge tank.
9. ASurge tank:
Surge tank is a small reservoir or
tank in which the water level rises or
falls due to sudden changes in
When there is a sudden close or

decrease in pressure due to control

valve then there is a back flow of
water. This creates a high pressure
zone in the penstock due to which it
may burst. This effect is known as
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.
To reduce the distance between the free
water surface in the dam and the turbine,
thereby reducing the water-hammer effect
on penstock and also protect the upstream
tunnel from high pressure rise.
10. 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
11. Water Ways
Water ways are the passages, through which the water
is conveyed to the turbines from the dam. These may
include tunnels, canals, flumes, forebays and
penstocks and also surge tanks.
A forebay is an enlarged passage for drawing the water
from the reservoir or the river and giving it to the pipe
lines or canals.
Main function to store water which is rejected by plant.

Power house located closed to dam penstock directly

take water from reservoir, reservoir act as forebay.

12. Penstock
Penstock is a closed pipe of steel or concrete

for supplying water under pressure to the

A sufficient water depth should be provided

above the penstock entrance to avoid

formation of vortices which may carry air into
the penstock and result in lowered turbine
efficiency and undesirable pressure surges.
Penstock thickness:

Number of penstock
A hydro Power Plant uses a number of turbine
which are to be supplied water through penstock.
To use a single penstock for the whole a

To use one penstock for each turbine

To provide multiple penstock but each

penstock supplying water to at least two

Factors for Selecting number of penstocks:

Operational safety.
Transportation facilities.
13. Inlet valve :
Water from the penstock flows to

the turbine through the inlet

valve. The valve may be partially
closed or open thereby regulating
the pressure of water flowing to
the turbine.
The prime movers which are in
13. Draft tube
Draft tube is located between lower
ring of turbine and tail race . It
conveys water after discharge from
runner to tail race tunnel.
It is connected to the outlet of the

It allows the turbine to be placed

above the tail water level.

15. Power House
The power house is a building in which the

turbines, alternators and the auxiliary plant are

housed. Some important items of equipment
provided in the power house are as follows:
Turbines, Generators, Governors, Relief valve

for penstock setting, Gate valve, Transformer,

Switch board equipment and instruments, Oil
circuit breaker, Storage batteries, and Outgoing
Classification of power house

I. Surface.

II. Semi Under Ground

III. Under Ground.

I. Surface Power
All components of the Hydro power projects
are on the natural/excavated ground
surface. Surface power house has the
advantage of pre- determined topography,
design and is easy to construct.
However, these have the disadvantage of

limitation of head available as per the

In such projects the water inlet to the

machines could be from a penstock or

from a tunnel terminating into a penstock.
The water outlet goes into a tail race.
If the power house is located just adjacent

to the Dam then it is sometimes called a

Dam-toe power house.
II. Semi-underground power house
Some components of the power

house are underground, while

others are on surface.
The advantages of both surface

& underground are clubbed

together in a semi-underground
III. Underground power house
Depending on the topography, a

power house may have to be located

inside a mountain. Such a power
house is called an underground
power house.
The complete power house
equipment are located inside Cavern.
In such power houses various
tunnels such as Head race tunnel for
the water inflow to the turbine, Tail
race tunnel for water out flow of the
turbine and various access tunnel
have to be provided inside the
This is very advantages as it
overcomes the limitations of head
available as per topography and
provide compact and economical
This requires less land and
consequently reduces rehabilitation
Electric generator, Step-up
transformer and Pylon :
As the water rushes through the

turbine, it spins the turbine shaft,

which is coupled to the electric
The generator has a rotating
electromagnet called a rotor and a
stationary part called a stator.
The rotor creates a magnetic field

that produces an electric charge in

the stator. The charge is transmitted
as electricity.
The step-up transformer increases

the voltage of the current coming

from the stator.
Selection of site for a hydro-electric power plant
The following factors should be given careful
consideration while selecting a site for a hydro-
electric power plant:

1. Water Available.

The recorded observation should be taken over a

number of years to know within reasonable, limits
the maximum and minimum variations from the
average discharge. the river flow data should be
based on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly flow
ever a number of years.
Then the curves or graphs can be plotted

between tile river flow and time. These are

known as hygrographs and flow duration curves.

2. Water-Storage.

The output of a hydropower plant is not uniform

due to wide variations of rain fall. To have a
uniform power output, a water storage is needed
so that excess flow at certain times may be
stored to make it available at the times of low
To select the site of the Dam, careful study
should be made of the geology and
topography of the catchment area to see if
the natural foundations could be found & put
to the best use.
3.Head of Water.

The level of water in the reservoir for a

proposed plant should always be within limits
throughout the year.
4. Distance from Load Center.
Most of the time the electric power
generated in a hydro-electric power
plant has to be used some
considerable distance from the site of
plant. For this reason, to be
economical on transmission of electric
power, the routes & the distances
5.Access to Site.
It is always a desirable factor to have

a good access to the site of the plant.

This factor is very important if the
electric power generated is to be
utilized at or near the plant site. The
transport facilities must also be given
due consideration.
Important Terms In Hydropower

FRL is the Upper level of the reservoir (selected

based on techno-economic& submergence

Lowest level up to which the reservoir level

could be drawn down to withdraw waters for
energy generation (selected from considerations
of silt & turbine operational limits)

Total storage capacity of the reservoir

Reservoir storage which cannot be used for
generation and is left for silt deposition( below
The storage in the reservoir which is available for
power generation (between FRL & MDDL)

Storage required to meet daily variations in load

demand. It depends upon the minimum flows and
peak discharges.

Most critical period with respect to system load

requirements, begins when reservoir begins delivering
water for generation from full i.e. the available storage
is fully drafted at one point during the period; and the
critical period ends when the storage has completely

That portion of the critical period in which reservoir live

storage is completely drafted while meeting firm energy
FIRM POWER The net amount of
power which is continuously
available from a plant without
any break on firm or guaranteed
Peak Energy

Electric energy supplied during

periods of relatively high system
Off-peak Energy

Electric energy supplied during

Normal Water Level -It is the highest

elevation of water level that can be

maintained in the reservoir without any
spillway discharge
Minimum Water Level -It is the elevation

of the water level which produces

minimum net head on the power units
(i.e. 60% of the design head)
Design Head The head at which the

turbine will operate to give the best

overall efficiency under various operating
Gross Head It is the difference in water

level elevation at the point of diversion

of water for the hydel scheme and the
point of return of water back to the river.
Net Head or Effective Head It is the

difference of head at the point of entry and

exit of turbine and includes the respective
velocity and pressure heads at both places.

Installed Capacity It is the total capacity

in kilowatts or million megawatts of all the

turbine generator units installed in a power
Dependable Capacity It is the load

carrying capability of the power house

with respect to the load characteristics
during a specified time interval
Load Factor (LF) It is defined as the ratio

of the average load over a certain period

of time to the peak load during the same
Average load over a certain period
Load Factor
Peak load during that period

Utilization Factor (UF) or Plant Use Factor

Water actually utilized for power production
Water available in the river

Capacity Factor or Plant Factor It is the ratio of

average output of the plant for a
given period of time to the plant capacity or, it
Energy actually produced in a given time
be defined as:
Max. energy that can be produced by the plant during the same time
Water Power Potential
. It is the amount of power generated when Q is
m3/sec of water is allowed to fall through a
head difference of H meters & is given by:

P= gQH
P = power in kilowatts (kW)
g = gravitational acceleration (9.81
o = overall efficiency (0<n<1)
Q = quantity of water flowing (m3/sec)
H = effective head (m)

= density of water kg/m3
Advantages of hydroelectric plants
operation , running and
maintenance costs are low.
once the dam is built, the energy is

virtually free.
no fuel is burnt and the plant is

quite neat & clean.

no waste or pollution produced.
water can be stored above the dam

ready to cope with peaks in demand.

unscheduled breakdowns are relatively

infrequent and short in duration since

the equipment is relatively simple.
hydroelectric turbine-generators can be

started and put "on-line" very rapidly.

electricity can be generated constantly
Disadvantages of hydroelectric plants
very land-use oriented and may flood large

the dams are very expensive to build. However,

many dams are also used for flood control or

irrigation, so building costs can be shared.
capital cost of generators, civil engineering

works and cost of transmission lines is very high.

water quality and quantity downstream can be

affected, which can have an impact on plant life.

finding a suitable site can be difficult - the impact on

residents and the environment may be

fish migration is restricted.

fish health affected by water temperature change

and insertion of excess nitrogen into water at

available water and its temperature may be affected

reservoirs alter silt-flow patterns


Example 1: Three turbo-generators each

of capacity 10000 kW have been installed
at a hydel power station. During a certain
period of load, the load on the plant varies
from 12000 kW to 26000 kW. Calculate (i)
total installed capacity, (ii) load factor, (iii)
plant factor.
Exercise1 : During a low water week a

river has an average daily flow of 32

m3/sec with a fluctuation during the day
requiring a pondage capacity of
approximately 15% of the daily discharge.
a HEP is to be located on the river which
will operate 5 days a week, 24 hours a
day, but will supply power at varying rate
If the effective head on the turbines
when the pond is full is to be 25 m and
the maximum allowable fluctuation in
pond level is 1 m find (a) the surface
area of the pond to satisfy all the
operating conditions, (b) the weekly
output at the switch board in kwh.
4. Consider a mountain stream with an
effective head of 30 meters (m)and a
flow rate of 800 liters ()per minute.
How much power could a hydro plant
generate? Assume plant efficiency ()
of 85%.

How much energy (E) will the hydro

plant generate each year?