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Hydroelectric ROV inspections Deep Trekker robotic solutions

Cody Warner   |   September 18, 2019

Perform rapid and safe inspections for penstocks, intakes, trash racks and reservoirs of hydroelectric power sites using remotely operated vehicles.

Safety and rapid response - fundamentals for hydroelectric ROV inspections

When it comes to underwater structure inspections, hydroelectric power-producing plants traditionally contract commercial dive teams. Working in these environments is dangerous so safety is crucial. Calling on divers to perform visual inspections is costly and can be time consuming - there are times when you need an answer now.

Inspect at a moments notice

Having a ROV on site allows you as the plant manager or maintenance supervisor to get those answers immediately. An ROV can be used as a precautionary tool and for more mundane daily activities such as routine intake gate or trash rack inspections.

What makes Deep Trekker ROVs particularly suited for inspections of hydroelectric dams?

They are robust and reliable. They can sit on the sideline for months and be ready when duty calls.

Deep Trekker ROVs are affordable, easy to operate, have low maintenance and do not require extensive training or retraining for operations compared to other ROVs.

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How do we know how our ROVs have helped with hydroelectric dam operations? With thousands of ROVs in operation in over 90 countries worldwide. Nova Scotia Power, BC Hydro, Kaukauna Utilities, Dardanelle & Ozark, Consumers Energy, Box Canyon Dam among many others rely on their Deep Trekker ROV to get them imperative structural information to keep their dams operating at their best.

Areas to inspect

There are many structures at a dam site that could use inspection. Below are a few examples of places we have seen Deep Trekker customers using their ROVs:

Reservoir

If a dam is also used as a water retention structure (as opposed to along a river) then there is a reserve of water. There are structures containing the water such as walls and lake beds that need to be evaluated, whether it is to monitor sediment levels or structural integrity. These evaluations can be done with a Deep Trekker ROVs.

Intake / control gate

The main structure for a dam that is most crucial to the generation of power is the turbine. Turbines are turned by flowing water, the water flows in via intake structures. The internal structures need to remain in good shape, but a key aspect is the gate that prevents large objects from entering the intake and causing damage to the turbine. The gate needs to be inspected regularly for blockages (which can reduce flow and electrical output) and for their condition. If the gate or bolts holding the gate in place are damaged or corroded, it is far less costly to perform preventative maintenance than to correct the issues that come from a failed gate. This is where a Deep Trekker ROV can make it much easier to implement a regular gate inspection program.

Perhaps one of the most important inspections is checking 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.

Trash racks

Objects like logs and garbage gather around the edges of a dam. Structures are in place to "catch" this debris besides the intake gate itself. It is important to regularly survey these to ensure they do not overflow or fail. A Deep Trekker ROV can help to get eyes on the trash racks and also contribute in clearance operations by using the Grabber. The Grabber combined with pulling on the tether can lift up to 90 kg (200 lbs), and can also carry a carabiner and line down to tie onto larger objects. Having a ROV gives you one more tool in the toolbox to avoid needing to contract divers as often.

Penstocks

Penstocks are long, angled pipes that carry water from the main intake structure down to outfall or discharge of the dam. They are an important part to maintain, if these have a blockage or failure then this can cause a backup in the dam. This can reduce efficiencies and may have environmental impacts. Deep Trekker's compact size and durable construction make it the ideal ROV for the job.

Have a specific job?

Where else would you use a Deep Trekker ROV at your dam site? Contact us with your thoughts, we'd love to hear from you!

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