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Gezhou HidroPower Dam

Gezhou HidroPower Dam

Hydropower (from hydro meaning water) is energy that comes from the force of moving water. The fall and movement of water is part of a continuous natural cycle called the water cycle. Energy from the sun evaporates water in the earth’s oceans and rivers and draws it upward as water vapor.

When the water vapor reaches the cooler air in the atmosphere, it condenses and forms clouds. The moisture eventually falls to the earth as rain or snow, replenishing the water in the oceans and rivers. Gravity drives the water, moving it from high ground to low ground. The force of moving water can be extremely powerful.

Hydropower is called a renewable energy source because the water on the earth is continuously replenished by precipitation. As long as the water cycle continues, we won’t run out of this energy source.

History of Hydropower

Hydropower has been used for centuries. The Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat into flour more than 2,000 years ago. In the early 1800s, American and European factories used the water wheel to power machines. The water wheel is a simple machine. The water wheel is located below a source of flowing water.

It captures the water in buckets attached to the wheel and the weight of the water causes the wheel to turn. Water wheels convert the potential energy (gravitational energy) of the water into motion. That energy can then be used to grind grain, drive sawmills, or pump water.

In the late 19th century, the force of falling water was used to generate electricity. The first hydroelectric power plant was built at Niagara Falls in 1879. In the following decades, many more hydroelectric plants were built. At its height in the early 1940s, hydropower provided 33 percent of this country’s electricity.

By the late 1940s, the best sites for big dams had been developed. Inexpensive fossil fuel plants also entered the picture. At that time, plants burning coal or oil could make electricity more cheaply than hydro plants. Soon they began to underprice the smaller hydroelectric plants. It wasn’t until the oil shocks of the 1970s that people showed a renewed interest in hydropower.

Hydro Dams

It’s easier to build a hydro plant where there is a natural waterfall. That’s why the first hydro plant was built at Niagara Falls. Dams, which are artificial waterfalls, are the next best way.

Dams are built on rivers where the terrain will produce an artificial lake or reservoir above the dam. Today there are about 80,000 dams in the United States, but only three percent (2,000) have power-generating hydro plants. Most dams are built for flood control and irrigation, not electric power generation. A dam serves two purposes at a hydro plant. First, a dam increases the head or height of the water. Second, it controls the flow of water. Dams release water when it is needed for electricity production. Special gates called spillway gates release excess water from the reservoir during heavy rainfalls.

Hydropower Plants

Hydropower Plant Parts

Hydropower Plant Parts

As people discovered centuries ago, the flow of water represents a huge supply of kinetic energy that can be put to work. Water wheels are useful for generating mechanical energy to grind grain or saw wood, but they are not practical for generating electricity. Water wheels are too bulky and slow.

Hydroelectric plants are different. They use modern turbine generators to produce electricity, just as thermal (coal, oil, nuclear) power plants do, except that they do not produce heat to spin the turbines.

How a Hydro Plant Works

A typical hydro plant is a system with three parts:

  • a power plant where the electricity is produced.
  • a dam that can be opened or closed to control water flow
  • a reservoir (artificial lake) where water can be stored

To generate electricity, a dam opens its gates to allow water from the reservoir above to flow down through large tubes called penstocks. At the bottom of the penstocks, the fast-moving water spins the blades of turbines. The turbines are connected to generators to produce electricity. The electricity is then transported via huge transmission lines to a local utility company.

Head and Flow

The amount of electricity that can be generated at a hydro plant is determined by two factors: head and flow. Head is how far the water drops. It is the distance from the highest level of the dammed water to the point where it goes through the power-producing turbine.

Flow is how much water moves through the system––the more water that moves through a system, the higher the flow. Generally, a high-head plant needs less water flow than a low-head plant to produce the same amount of electricity.

Storing Energy

One of the biggest advantages of a hydropower plant is its ability to store energy. The water in a reservoir is, after all, stored energy. Water can be stored in a reservoir and released when needed for electricity production.

During the day when people use more electricity, water can flow through a plant to generate electricity. Then, during the night when people use less electricity, water can be held back in the reservoir. Storage also makes it possible to save water from winter rains for summer generating power, or to save water from wet years for generating electricity during dry years.

Pumped Storage Systems

Some hydro plants use pumped storage systems. A pumped storage system operates much as a public fountain does. The same water is used again and again. At a pumped storage hydro plant, flowing water is used to make electricity and then stored in a lower pool. Depending on how much electricity is needed, the water may be pumped back to an upper pool. Pumping water to the upper pool requires electricity so hydro plants usually use pumped storage systems only when there is peak demand for electricity.

Pumped hydro is the most reliable energy storage system used by American electric utilities. Coal and nuclear power plants have no energy storage systems. They must turn to gas and oil-fired generators when people demand lots of electricity. They also have no way to store any extra energy they might produce during normal generating periods.

Hydropower Production

How much electricity do we get from hydropower today? Depending on the amount of rainfall, hydro plants produce from five to ten percent of the electricity produced in this country (10 percent in 1997, 5.9 percent in 2008 due to the droughts in the west. In Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, hydropower supplies over 73 percent of the electricity each year. Today, there are about 78 million kilowatts of hydro generating capacity in the United States. That’s equivalent to the generating capacity of 80 large nuclear power plants. The biggest hydro plant in the U.S. is located at the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in northern Washington State. The United States also gets some hydropower generated electricity from Canada.

Some New England utilities buy this imported electricity. What does the future look like for hydropower? The most economical sites for hydropower dams have already been developed so the development of big hydro plants is unlikely. Existing plants could be enlarged to provide additional generating capacity. Plus, many flood-control dams not equipped for electricity production could be retrofitted with generating equipment. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimates 30 thousand megawatts of additional generating capacity could be developed in the United States.

Hydropower for Baseload Power

Demand for electricity is not steady; it goes up and down. People use more electricity during the day when they are awake and using electrical appliances, and less at night when they are asleep.

People also use more electricity when the weather is very cold or very hot. Electric utility companies have to produce electricity to meet these changing demands. Baseload power is the electricity that utilities have to generate all the time. For that reason, baseload power should be cheap and reliable. Hydropower meets both these requirements.

Generating electricity with hydropower is the cheapest way to generate electricity in the U.S., and the fuel supply flowing water is always available. Hydro plants are more energy efficient than most thermal power plants, too. That means they waste less energy to produce electricity. In thermal power plants, a lot of energy is lost as heat. Hydro plants are about 95 percent efficient at converting the kinetic energy of the moving water into electricity.

Economics of Hydropower

Hydropower is the cheapest way to generate electricity today. No other energy source, renewable or nonrenewable, can match it.

Today, it costs about one cent per kWh (kilowatt-hour) to produce electricity at a typical hydro plant. In comparison, it costs coal plants about three cents per kWh and nuclear plants about two cents per kWh to generate electricity. Producing electricity from hydropower is cheap because, once a dam has been built and the equipment installed, the energy source—flowing water—is free.

Hydropower plants also produce power cheaply due to their sturdy structures and simple equipment. Hydro plants are
dependable and long-lived, and their maintenance costs are low compared to coal or nuclear plants. One requirement may increase hydropower’s costs in the future. The procedure for licensing and relicensing dams has become a lengthy
and expensive process. Many environmental impact studies must be undertaken and as many as 13 state and federal agencies must be consulted. It takes anywhere from three to seven years to get a license to build a hydroelectric dam or a relicense to continue operations.

Hydropower and the Environment

Hydropower potentially can harm fish

Hydropower can potentially harm fish

Hydropower dams can cause several environmental problems, even though they burn no fuel. Damming rivers may permanently alter river systems and wildlife habitats.

Fish, for one, may no longer be able to swim upstream. Hydro plant operations may also affect water quality by churning up dissolved metals that may have been deposited by industry long ago. Hydropower operations may increase silting, change water temperatures, and lower the levels of dissolved oxygen.

Some of these problems can be managed by constructing fish ladders, dredging the silt, and carefully regulating plant
operations. Hydropower has advantages, too. Hydropower’s fuel supply (flowing water) is clean and is renewed yearly by snow and rainfall. Furthermore, hydro plants do not emit pollutants into the air because they burn no fuel. With growing concern over greenhouse gas emissions and increased demand for electricity, hydropower may become more important in the future.

Hydropower facilities offer a range of additional benefits. Many dams are used to control flooding and regulate water supply, and reservoirs provide lakes for recreational purposes, such as boating and fishing.

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The Nature Of Reactive Energy

The Nature Of Reactive Energy

All inductive machines i.e. electromagnetic and devices that operate on AC systems convert electrical energy from the powersystem generators into mechanical work and heat. This energy is measured by kWh meters, and is referred to as active or wattful energy. In order to perform this conversion, magnetic fields have to be established in the machines, and these fields are associated with another form of energy to be supplied from the power system, known as reactive or wattless energy.

The reason for this is that inductive plant cyclically absorbs energy from the system (during the build-up of the magnetic fields) and re-injects that energy into the system (during the collapse of the magnetic fields) twice in every power-frequency cycle.

The effect on generator rotors is to (tend to) slow them during one part of the cycle and to accelerate them during another part of the cycle. The pulsating torque is stricly true only for single-phase alternators. In three-phase alternators the effect is mutually cancelled in the three phases, since, at any instant, the reactive energy supplied on one (or two) phase(s) is equal to the reactive energy being returned on the other two (or one) phase(s) of a balanced system. The nett result is zero average load on the generators, i.e. the reactive current is “wattless”.

An exactly similar phenomenon occurs with shunt capacitive elements in a power system, such as cable capacitance or banks of power capacitors, etc. In this case, energy is stored electrostatically. The cyclic charging and discharging of capacitive plant reacts on the generators of the system in the same manner as that described above for inductive plant, but the current flow to and from capacitive plant is in exact phase opposition to that of the inductive plant. This feature is the basis on which powerfactor improvement schemes depend.

It should be noted that while this “wattless” current (more accurately, the wattless component of a load current) does not draw power from the system, it does cause power losses in transmission and distribution systems by heating the conductors.

In practical power systems, wattless components of load currents are invariably inductive, while the impedances of transmission and distribution systems are predominantly inductively reactive. The combination of inductive current passing through an inductive reactance produces the worst possible conditions of voltage drop (i.e. in direct phase opposition to the system voltage).

Active and reactive power

Fig. 1 : An electric motor requires active power P and reactive power Q from the power system

For these reasons, viz:

  • Transmission power losses and
  • Voltage drop

The power-supply authorities reduce the amount of wattless (inductive) current as much as possible. Wattless (capacitive) currents have the reverse effect on voltage levels and produce voltage-rises in power systems.

The power (kW) associated with “active” energy is usually represented by the letter P. The reactive power (kvar) is represented by Q. Inductively-reactive power is conventionally positive (+ Q) while capacitively-reactive power is shown as a negative quantity (- Q). S represents kVA of “apparent” power.

Figure 1 shows that the kVA of apparent power is the vector sum of the kW of active power plus the kvar of reactive power.

Alternating current systems supply two forms of energy:

  • Active energy measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) which is converted into mechanical work, heat, light, etc
  • Reactive energy, which again takes two forms:
    • “Reactive” energy required by inductive circuits (transformers, motors, etc.),
Plant and appliances requiring reactive energy

All AC plant and appliances that include electromagnetic devices, or depend on magnetically-coupled windings, require some degree of reactive current to create magnetic flux. The most common items in this class are transformers and reactors, motors and discharge lamps (i.e. the ballasts of).

The proportion of reactive power (kvar) with respect to active power (kW) when an item of plant is fully loaded varies according to the item concerned being:

  • 65-75% for asynchronous motors
  • 5-10% for transformers

SOURCE: Schneider Electric

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Storage Systems

Storage Systems | ABB Battery

Energy storage technologies are of great interest to electric utilities, energy service companies, and automobile manufacturers (for electric vehicle application). The ability to store large amounts of energy would allow electric utilities to have greater flexibility in their operation because with this option the supply and demand do not have to be matched instantaneously. The availability of the proper battery at the right price will make the electric vehicle a reality, a goal that has eluded the automotive industry thus far. Four types of storage technologies (listed below) are discussed in this section, but most emphasis is placed on storage batteries because it is now closest to being commercially viable. The other storage technology widely used by the electric power industry, pumped-storage power plants, is not discussed as this has been in commercial operation for more than 60 years in various countries around the world.

  • Flywheel storage
  • Compressed air energy storage
  • Superconducting magnetic energy storage
  • Battery storage

Flywheel Storage

Flywheels store their energy in their rotating mass, which rotates at very high speeds (approaching 75,000 rotations per minute), and are made of composite materials instead of steel because of the composite’s ability to withstand the rotating forces exerted on the flywheel. In order to store enegy the flywheel is placed in a sealed container which is then placed in a vacuum to reduce air resistance. Magnets embedded in the flywheel pass near pickup coils. The magnet induces a current in the coil changing the rotational energy into electrical energy.

Flywheels are still in research and development, and commercial products are several years away.

Compressed Air Energy Storage

As the name implies, the compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant uses electricity to compress air which is stored in underground reservoirs. When electricity is needed, this compressed air is withdrawn, heated with gas or oil, and run through an expansion turbine to drive a generator. The compressed air can be stored in several types of underground structures, including caverns in salt or rock formations, aquifers, and depleted natural gas fields. Typically the compressed air in a CAES plant uses about one third of the premium fuel needed to produce the same amount of electricity as in a conventional plant. A 290-MW CAES plant has been in operation in Germany since the early 1980s with 90% availability and 99% starting reliability. In the U.S., the Alabama Electric Cooperative runs a CAES plant that stores compressed air in a 19-million cubic foot cavern mined from a salt dome. This 110-MW plant has a storage capacity of 26 h. The fixed-price turnkey cost for this first-of-a-kind plant is about $400/kW in constant 1988 dollars.

The turbomachinery of the CAES plant is like a combustion turbine, but the compressor and the expander operate independently. In a combustion turbine, the air that is used to drive the turbine is compressed just prior to combustion and expansion and, as a result, the compressor and the expander must operate at the same time and must have the same air mass flow rate. In the case of a CAES plant, the compressor and the expander can be sized independently to provide the utility-selected “optimal” MW charge and discharge rate which determines the ratio of hours of compression required for each hour of turbine-generator operation. The MW ratings and time ratio are influenced by the utility’s load curve, and the price of off-peak power.

For example, the CAES plant in Germany requires 4 h of compression per hour of generation. On the other hand, the Alabama plant requires 1.7 h of compression for each hour of generation. At 110-MW net output, the power ratio is 0.818 kW output for each kilowatt input. The heat rate (LHV) is 4122 BTU/kWh with natural gas fuel and 4089 BTU/kWh with fuel oil. Due to the storage option, a partial-load operation of the CAES plant is also very flexible. For example, the heat rate of the expander increases only by 5%, and the airflow decreases nearly linearly when the plant output is turned down to 45% of full load. However, CAES plants have not reached commercial viability beyond some prototypes.

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage

A third type of advanced energy storage technology is superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES), which may someday allow electric utilities to store electricity with unparalled efficiency (90% or more). A simple description of SMES operation follows.
The electricity storage medium is a doughnut-shaped electromagnetic coil of superconducting wire. This coil could be about 1000 m in diameter, installed in a trench, and kept at superconducting temper- ature by a refrigeration system. Off-peak electricity, converted to direct current (DC), would be fed into this coil and stored for retrieval at any moment. The coil would be kept at a low-temperature supercon- ducting state using liquid helium.

The time between charging and discharging could be as little as 20 ms with a round-trip AC–AC efficiency of over 90%.

Developing a commercial-scale SMES plant presents both economic and technical challenges. Due to the high cost of liquiud helium, only plants with 1000-MW, 5-h capacity are economically attractive. Even then the plant capital cost can exceed several thousand dollars per kilowatt. As ceramic superconductors, which become superconducting at higher temperatures (maintained by less expensive liquid nitrogen), become more widely available, it may be possible to develop smaller scale SMES plants at a lower price.

Battery Storage

Even though battery storage is the oldest and most familiar energy storage device, significant advances have been made in this technology in recent years to deserve more attention. There has been renewed interest in this technology due to its potential application in non-polluting electric vehicles. Battery systems are quiet and non-polluting, and can be installed near load centers and existing suburban substations. These have round-trip AC–AC efficiencies in the range of 85%, and can respond to load changes within 20 ms. Several U.S., European, and Japanese utilities have demonstrated the application of lead–acid batteries for load-following applications. Some of them have been as large as 10 MW with 4 h of storage.

The other player in battery development is the automotive industry for electric vehicle application. In 1991, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), several utilities, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) formed the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) to develop better batteries for electric vehicle (EV) applications. A brief introduction to some of the available battery technologies as well some that are under study is presented in the following (Source:http://www.eren. doe.gov/consumerinfo/refbriefs/fa1/html).

Battery Types

Chemical batteries are individual cells filled with a conducting medium-electrolyte that, when connected together, form a battery. Multiple batteries connected together form a battery bank. At present, there are two main types of batteries: primary batteries (non-rechargeable) and secondary batteries (rechargeable). Secondary batteries are further divided into two categories based on the operating temperature of the electrolyte. Ambient operating temperature batteries have either aqueous (flooded) or nonaqueous elec- trolytes. High operating temperature batteries (molten electrodes) have either solid or molten electrolytes. Batteries in EVs are the secondary-rechargeable-type and are in either of the two sub-categories. A battery for an EV must meet certain performance goals.

These goals include quick discharge and recharge capability, long cycle life (the number of discharges before becoming unserviceable), low cost, recycla- bility, high specific energy (amount of usable energy, measured in watt-hours per pound [lb] or kilogram [kg]), high energy density (amount of energy stored per unit volume), specific power (determines the potential for acceleration), and the ability to work in extreme heat or cold. No battery currently available meets all these criteria.

Lead–Acid Batteries

Lead–acid starting batteries (shallow-cycle lead–acid secondary batteries) are the most common battery used in vehicles today. This battery is an ambient temperature, aqueous electrolyte battery. A cousin to this battery is the deep-cycle lead–acid battery, now widely used in golf carts and forklifts. The first electric cars built also used this technology. Although the lead–acid battery is relatively inexpensive, it is very heavy, with a limited usable energy by weight (specific energy). The battery’s low specific energy and poor energy density make for a very large and heavy battery pack, which cannot power a vehicle as far as an equivalent gas-powered vehicle. Lead–acid batteries should not be discharged by more than 80% of their rated capacity or depth of discharge (DOD). Exceeding the 80% DOD shortens the life of the battery. Lead–acid batteries are inexpensive, readily available, and are highly recyclable, using the elaborate recycling system already in place. Research continues to try to improve these batteries.

A lead–acid nonaqueous (gelled lead acid) battery uses an electrolyte paste instead of a liquid. These batteries do not have to be mounted in an upright position. There is no electrolyte to spill in an accident. Nonaqueous lead–acid batteries typically do not have as high a life cycle and are more expensive than flooded deep-cycle lead–acid batteries.

Nickel Iron and Nickel Cadmium Batteries

Nickel iron (Edison cells) and nickel cadmium (nicad) pocket and sintered plate batteries have been in use for many years. Both of these batteries have a specific energy of around 25 Wh/lb (55 Wh/kg), which is higher than advanced lead–acid batteries. These batteries also have a long cycle life. Both of these batteries are recyclable. Nickel iron batteries are non-toxic, while nicads are toxic. They can also be discharged to 100% DOD without damage. The biggest drawback to these batteries is their cost. Depend- ing on the size of battery bank in the vehicle, it may cost between $20,000 and $60,000 for the batteries. The batteries should last at least 100,000 mi (160,900 km) in normal service.

Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries

Nickel metal hydride batteries are offered as the best of the next generation of batteries. They have a high specific energy: around 40.8 Wh/lb (90 Wh/kg). According to a U.S. DOE report, the batteries are benign to the environment and are recyclable. They also are reported to have a very long cycle life. Nickel metal hydride batteries have a high self-discharge rate: they lose their charge when stored for long periods of time. They are already commercially available as “AA” and “C” cell batteries, for small consumer appliances and toys. Manufacturing of larger batteries for EV applications is only available to EV manufacturers. Honda is using these batteries in the EV Plus, which is available for lease in California.

Sodium Sulfur Batteries

This battery is a high-temperature battery, with the electrolyte operating at temperatures of 572°F (300°C). The sodium component of this battery explodes on contact with water, which raises certain safety concerns. The materials of the battery must be capable of withstanding the high internal temper- atures they create, as well as freezing and thawing cycles. This battery has a very high specific energy: 50 Wh/lb (110 Wh/kg). The Ford Motor Company uses sodium sulfur batteries in their Ecostar, a converted delivery minivan that is currently sold in Europe. Sodium sulfur batteries are only available to EV manufacturers.

Lithium Iron and Lithium Polymer Batteries

The USABC considers lithium iron batteries to be the long-term battery solution for EVs. The batteries have a very high specific energy: 68 Wh/lb (150 Wh/kg). They have a molten-salt electrolyte and share many features of a sealed bipolar battery. Lithium iron batteries are also reported to have a very long cycle life. These are widely used in laptop computers. These batteries will allow a vehicle to travel distances and accelerate at a rate comparable to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Lithium polymer batteries eliminate liquid electrolytes. They are thin and flexible, and can be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes.

Neither type will be ready for EV commercial applications until early in the 21st century.

Zinc and Aluminum Air Batteries

Zinc air batteries are currently being tested in postal trucks in Germany. These batteries use either aluminum or zinc as a sacrificial anode. As the battery produces electricity, the anode dissolves into the electrolyte. When the anode is completely dissolved, a new anode is placed in the vehicle. The aluminum or zinc and the electrolyte are removed and sent to a recycling facility. These batteries have a specific energy of over 97 Wh/lb (200 Wh/kg). The German postal vans currently carry 80 kWh of energy in their battery, giving them about the same range as 13 gallons (49.2 liters) of gasoline. In their tests, the vans have achieved a range of 615 mi (990 km) at 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).
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SOURCE: Rahman, Saifur “Electric Power Generation: Non-Conventional Methods”
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