Knowing about Hydel Plants & Uses of Transforming Water Force to Electric Power

Since the very time the world witnessed the industrial revolution, energy resources have kept on being used. In fact, these resources have been over-utilized, endangering the bleak balance of the ecology. Whether they are developed, developing or the under-developed countries-- all want energy resources for fueling their sustainability and growth cycles.

The man utilized wood, coal, petroleum and almost all other ready energy sources till the need for more arose to such an extent that imbalance of ecology was noted. If not for only this fact, it was the availability/ unavailability of certain resources in some parts of the world, which led the mankind to think for using alternative resources of energy. Hydro-Electricity (commonly known as 'HYDEL') is one such alternative resource of energy, which has brought a lot of scope for water-source-rich countries to use this renewable source of energy thereby giving them a bright chance to develop and grow alike without endangering the ecology.

Hydel-Energy and Hydel Plants

In simple terms, the power (electricity) generated through water (hydro) is commonly termed as hydel energy; and the power generation plants are known as the hydro-electric plants; or even simply, the hydel plants.

Hydro-electric power plants work on the simple concept of taking the kinetic energy from running and/or falling water, thereby converting it into electricity. These plants are basically of two broad types:

  • “Run-of-the-river” type, and
  • “Reservoir” type

The basic difference between the two is essentially the storage and feeding capacity of the reservoirs that store and supply water to the turbines, which are housed at downstream end of the pressure shafts. These pressure shafts are constructed in an angle so that the water falls on the turbines with a larger head, thereby developing larger kinetic velocities. The running of the turbines generates electricity, which is then fed to the main power grid, making the power generated available to a large or small area or region depending upon the requirement and purposes.

As such, in case of “Run-of-the-river” type hydel plants, the rivers are having enough water and speed that can cater to the requirements of a plant having a smaller sized storage reservoir. On the other hand, the rivers having lesser discharge quotients or occasional dry periods need to be supplemented with large sized reservoirs where water is kept stored in huge quantum so as to cater the needs of the hydel plant.

Multiple Uses of Hydel Plants

Besides being used to generate hydel power, such plants may also help in the following:

  • Flood control and monitoring
  • Navigational purposes
  • Irrigation and drought control
  • Public water supply
  • Recreational purposes

The other benefits of generating power by such alternative means are:

  • No pollution is caused
  • The natural resources are put to use in a dynamic phase, that is, only running water’s velocity is utilized whereas the water is again discharged downstream without much wastage.
  • Operation and maintenance costs of such plants are low
  • Small capacity hydel plants can be set up again at certain downstream part of the river, thereby enhancing the power generation requirements.

A Few Disadvantages are there too to take care of

Besides having so many advantages, designing and using the hydel plants require certain checks and precautions also to be taken care of.

  • The major environmental impact of hydro-electric plants is the flooding of large areas of land to form reservoirs for water that results in large scale flooding and displacement of the river-side dwellings and large chunks of lands.
  • Much of the land, which is converted into a large sized reservoir, is usually either forested or inhabited before it is submerged. A lot of people therefore need to be displaced and re-habited.
  • Mitigation of water creatures, like fishes, etc. are restricted
  • Studies have even showed earthquake related impacts of large volumes of stored water in the region
  • The man-made reservoirs usually do alter the silt-flow patterns of the river.

Synopsis

Hydro-electric power plants have played a major role in the world's energy supply in terms of alternative energy resources. Hydel generated power is almost inexpensive, reliable, and has environmental impacts, which are not as devastating as those from the traditional fuels, like fossil fuels, etc. It not only enhances the power production capacities to feed the ever-increasing world, but also uses the natural resource, thereby negating the pollution fears.


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