In this article you will learn the top 5 factors you must consider before selecting a suitable site for a hydroelectric power plant.
While selecting a suitable site for a hydroelectric power plant, if a good system of natural storage lakes at high altitudes and with large catchment areas can be located, the plant will be comparatively economical.
Anyhow the essential characteristics of a good site are large catchment areas, high average rainfall and a favourable place for constructing the storage or reservoir. For this purpose, the geological, geographical and meteorological conditions of a site need careful investigation.
The following factors should be given careful consideration while selecting a site for a hydro-electric power plant:
1. Water Available
To know the available energy from a given stream or river, the discharge flowing and its variation with time over a number of years must be known.
Preferably, the estimates of the average quantity of water available should be prepared based on actual measurements of the stream or river flow. The recorded observation should be taken over several 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 many years. Then the curves or graphs can be plotted between tile river flow and time. These are known as hygrographs and flow duration curves.
The plant capacity and the estimated output as well as the need for storage will be governed by the average flow. The primary or dependable power which is available at all times when energy is needed will depend upon the minimum flow. Such conditions may also fix the capacity of the standby plant. The maximum flood flow governs the size of the headwords and dam to be built with an adequate spillway.
As already discussed, 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 flow.
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 and 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 the plant.
For this reason, to be economical on the transmission of electric power, the routes and the distances should be carefully considered since the cost of erection of transmission lines and their maintenance will depend upon the route selected.
5. Access to Site
It is always a desirable factor to have 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.
These are the major 5 hydroelectric power plant site selection criteria. There are many other factors you have to consider before selecting the proper site of the power plant.