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Hydropower plants must adapt to the drought
Date: 2022-08-30    Source:IEC   

The very high temperatures during the summer and the lack of rain have drastically reduced the level of water in many of Europe's main rivers, including the Po in Italy and the Rhine in Switzerland, France and Germany. This in turn generates lower levels of hydropower in countries which traditionally rely strongly on that energy in the overall power-mix. Many forget that hydropower is the most important source of renewable energy in the world and that it is also essential to meet the 2050 zero emissions target.

Broadly, the two most common forms of hydropower in Europe are run-of-river plants, which rely on continuous water flow from a river to generate power, and reservoir storage, which stores water behind a dam and releases it in a controlled way to produce electricity.

Unsurprisingly, run-of-river plants have been hit the hardest this summer as river water levels dropped. Hydropower plants are having to adapt to this new situation using the latest technology. Most plants have been around for many years and are having to renew their equipment to be able to face these new challenges.

IEC Technical Committee 4 publishes a wide number of standards pertaining to the safety and performance of hydraulic turbines. According to Its Chair, Pierre Maruzewski, climate change and environmental degradation have resulted in a reduction of water inflow at some hydropower plants, as well as a decrease in reservoir levels.It is important to bring facilities that have been around for decades up to date. Turbines have evolved a lot over recent years and can be adapted to different water flows and function at variable speeds, for instance.

"Some hydropower plants suffer from water head reduction, together with a decrease in efficiency of energy conversion in hydro turbines. Variable speed turbines can be a more energy-efficient solution. Sensors and microprocessors perform better every year thanks to technology innovations."

Among the many standards published by the TC, the IEC 63132 series provide guidance for installation procedures of hydroelectric machines. These standards are very useful for countries wishing to install new hydro facilities and which have little or no prior knowledge of hydro power.

(Source: IEC)



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