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08-02-2022

Hydropower: Why do we need it? And how does it work?

Written by Karst Beens

We’ve told you before that we can inspect solar farms and windmills. And, what advantages our drones can offer in this area. You can read more about this here.

But there is one renewable energy we have left out until now: Hydropower!

Hydropower is one of the oldest forms of energy generation and was already used 2000 years ago by the ancient Greeks. At that time, water wheels were used to generate energy. In the 17th century, hydropower as we know it today was used for the first time. And since then it has been developed further and further.

 

How does Hydropower work?

Hydropower generates energy through the power of water.

The power plants are often located at a water dam, which accumulates water at the top and then allows the water to flow out in a controlled manner.

 

Hydropower explained - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

On the way down, the water flows through a turbine and then into a river.

The turbine is directly connected to a generator, which then converts the energy into electricity.

There are two different types of operation:

1.Run-of-river power plant : These can have little or no influence on the flow rate. Therefore, they are used to cover the base load of the power grid.

2.Storage power plants: Here, lakes or ponds are often used as storage. The operator of the power plant then has influence on the level of the lake or pond. This means that the production of electricity can be adjusted to the power grid. And can be increased or decreased if necessary.

 

Why Hydropower?

Nevertheless, the question still arises why we should use hydropower.

Where is the advantage compared to other renewable energies? Like solar power, for example?

The biggest advantage of hydropower in general is of course that it is renewable and very pure energy. Because the power plants are powered by water, there are no pollutants released into the air. Another advantage is that the power plants are local. This means that every country could in theory be self-sufficient.

In addition, the energy produced can be adapted to the energy used. Since the water is always available, energy shortages are prevented, which is also the main advantage over other renewable energies such as solar energy or wind energy. These are more difficult to control because they are not always available. Therefore, when there is a surplus, the energy must be stored for times when less is available. Hydropower can be quickly and flexibly adapted to any situation.

Finally, the water reservoirs serve not only for energy supply, but also for flood protection. You can read more about this here in our blog about flood protection in Germany.

Since hydro dams are no different from flood control reservoirs or dams, our applications are the same. How exactly we inspect reservoirs, you can read here. Especially with these inspections, the main concern is the safety of the divers. The water is clear enough to be inspected with the human eye. But even when the power plants are switched off, there is still strong current. This is dangerous for divers! Our drones are current resistant, or can be stabilized with an external crane.

Renewable energies bring many advantages and become more and more important, for all of us. Our drones can make a small contribution, but every contribution is important.

 


Do you have a hydro power plant or are you interested in our work in power plants?

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