Layout of Hydroelectric Power Plants

Hydroelectric power plants convert the hydraulic potential energy from water into electrical energy. Such  plants are suitable were water with suitable head are available. The layout covered in this article is just a simple one and only cover the important parts of  hydroelectric plant.The different parts of  a hydroelectric power plant are

(1) DamSpillway
Dams are structures built over rivers to stop the water flow and form a reservoir.The reservoir stores the water flowing down the river. This water is diverted to turbines in power stations. The dams collect water during the rainy season and stores it, thus allowing for a steady flow through the turbines throughout the year. Dams are also used for controlling floods and irrigation. The dams should be water-tight and should be able to withstand the pressure exerted by the water on it. There are different types of dams such as arch dams, gravity dams and buttress dams. The height of water in the dam is called head race.

(2) Spillway
A spillway as the name suggests could be called as a way for spilling of water from dams. It is  used to provide for the release of flood water from a dam. It is used to prevent over toping of the dams which could result in damage or failure of  dams. Spillways could be controlled type or uncontrolled type. The uncontrolled types start releasing water upon water rising above a particular level. But in case of the controlled type, regulation of flow is possible.Cross section of a
          power house

(3) Penstock and Tunnel
Penstocks are pipes which carry water from the reservoir to the turbines inside power station. They are usually made of  steel and are equipped with gate systems.Water under high pressure flows through the penstock. A tunnel serves the same purpose as a penstock. It is used when an obstruction is present between the dam and power station such as a mountain.

(4) Surge Tank
Surge tanks are tanks connected to the water conductor system. It serves the purpose of reducing water hammering in pipes which can cause damage to pipes. The sudden surges of water in penstock is taken by the surge tank, and when the water requirements increase, it supplies the collected water thereby regulating water flow and pressure inside the penstock.

(5) Power Station
Power station contains a turbine coupled to a generator (see the cross section of a power house on the left). The water brought to the power station rotates the vanes of the turbine producing  torque and rotation of turbine shaft. This rotational torque is transferred to the generator and is converted into electricity. The used water is released through the tail race. The difference between head race and tail race is called gross head and by subtracting the frictional losses we get the net head available to the turbine for generation of electricity.