Run-of-River Hydroelectricity Generation

Growing interest in water management and sustainable environment toward a sustainable world has awoken new sources of hydro energy. Among these are the run-of-river plants to produce electricity using induction generators. Run-of-river hydro plants do not require dams; that is, they are mainly run-of-river with little or no reservoir impoundment. They rely on the natural downward flow of the stream to guide water through pipes to a generating station. The force of the water spins a turbine, which drives an electric generator that causes electromotive forces and thus useful electrical power.

Of the two major types of hydro projects, the environmental impact of run-of-river facilities is considered low compared with facilities that have large storage reservoirs, Many Internet sites dealing with such small systems. A 25 MW project on this basis is located upstream of a 15 in the waterfall on the Mamquam River, Canada. Another example is the 11 MW run-of-river hydroelectric facility Furry Creek commissioned in British Columbia, which uses the tremendous force of Furry Creek to generate enough electricity to power 7000 homes annually.

For run-of-river hydro projects, a portion of a river’s water is diverted to a channel, pipeline, or pressurized pipeline (penstock) that delivers it to a waterwheel or turbine. The moving water rotates the wheel or turbine, which spins a shaft. The motion of the shaft can be used for mechanical processes, such as pumping water, or it can be used to power an alternator or generator to generate electricity. Conditions to consider with any run-of-river hydroelectricity scheme include:

• Available and desired power, voltage, and frequency
• Accessibility
• Intake and outfall locations
• Water head
• Water flow
• Availability of local materials
• Pipeline diameter
• Pipeline route
• Purpose of the generation
• Load evolution and prediction
• Powerhouse location
• Possibilities of grid connection
• Ecological issues
• Landscape issues
• Noise containment
• Floating materials