Cody Warner | May 20th, 2022
The main components of a hydroelectric plant are:
Hydropower plants can vary dramatically in size, from tiny single-home systems, all the way to monstrous dams to power cities like the Hoover Dam in Nevada, USA. Since there is no specific regulatory framework, each dam / owner has their own guidelines based on the expected asset lifespan and previous inspections. Larger structures will require more in-depth inspections and regular maintenance due to the severity of a system failure, however most plants will want to inspect these same assets:
For more information about reservoir inspections, check out our full article here.
If the gate or bolts holding the gate in place are damaged or corroded, it is much more cost efficient to perform preventative maintenance than to reel from the issues of a gate failure. Additionally, it is integral to inspect the vertical barrier screens to ensure that fish are protected. The screens protect juvenile fish from going through the power house, and instead directs the fish to a collection channel where they are sent to a juvenile fish facility.
For more information about intake maintenance, check out our full article here.
The inspection of hydro dams and power plants is integral for the prevention of system failures or inefficient energy production. By maintaining a consistent awareness of submerged assets and infrastructure, governments or private organizations can effectively forecast maintenance to avoid catastrophes.
Successful forecasting optimizes spending and allows for budgets to be confidently allocated for projects related to growth. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the world’s hydropower capacity must grow by 60% by 2050 to meet the criteria for mitigating climate change, making effective growth plans vital within the hydro industry (source).
Damages and blockages may not always lead to critical errors, however in many instances, minor imperfections can lead to inefficient production. After a recent interview, Jon Thomas of the Eugene Water and Electrical Board (EWEB) stated that their team used ROV inspections to identify the accumulation of debris on the intake trash racks. This allowed them to optimize the use of hired divers for clearing obstructions to always ensure proper water flow.
On another occasion, Thomas and his team noticed that the stoplogs were unable to create a watertight seal, leaving the crew unable to control the water as they needed. After inspection, they could see the debris that hindered the beams’ ability to create a seal was quickly located and removed, allowing the team to continue on with minimal downtime.
Talk to us about improving the safety and efficiency of your next hydroelectric dam inspection
Equipment Used | The DTG3
Dupont searched for potential solutions and came across Deep Trekker. He opted to purchase a DTG3 ROV and perform the inspections himself. Deep Trekker’s DTG3 is the most compact and affordable ROV in their lineup. This micro-class ROV weighs less than 20lbs and the entire system packs into a single travel case. Capable of deploying in minutes and battling currents of up to two knots, this vehicle was perfect for the needs of GENIFAB.
Not only did this make all of their inspections possible without the high cost of dive teams, it also enabled them to perform some inspections while keeping portions of plants running. "For instance, we can inspect a draft tube on one group while the other groups are operating," Dupont commented. The risk to a single ROV is much less than the risk to a human life, increasing the comfort level of not just GENIFAB but also their plant owner client.
Choosing the DTG3 by Deep Trekker enabled them to conduct inspections quickly and easily, without any external contracting. Without the dangers associated with manual inspections, certain underwater tasks could now be performed without any downtime for the plant.
An unforeseen benefit for GENIFAB was the ability to get involved early in rehabilitation projects. Performing the inspections internally, they built trust within their clientele and distinguished themselves from competitors. "Offering underwater inspections is expanding the field of work of our company," Dupont said. "We are able to offer a complete technical solution to dam owners, not only the mechanical design portion but also the entire structural design of the spillway”.
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