Hydropower Systems in the UK
Hydropower, or hydro energy, systems are energy-producing systems that utilise the movement of large masses of water to create electricity. Hydro energy is a renewable source of energy, as it is obtained from the naturally replenished source of water. It is typically acquired through the use of dams, turbines and generators.
The small hydropower market is estimated to reach a value of $3 billion by 2024. The growth in this industry is accounted for by the increasing impact of rural electrification, dams and hydropower stations around the world, in response to climate change and the UN zero-emission target by 2050. In the UK, hydropower accounts for 18% of the renewable energy produced; although it is the number one source of renewable energy globally.
Types of Hydropower Plants
Hydropower plants are categorised by size and type.
By size, there are Large (> 30MW), Small (< 10MW) and Micro (< 100kW) hydropower plants. The largest hydropower plant in the UK is the Dinorwig Hydro Power Station in Wales, capable of producing 1728 MW of power.
By type, there are Impoundment (dam), Diversion (river) and Pumped Storage (different altitude reservoirs) hydropower plants. Impoundment hydropower systems are the most common types found around the world.
Advantages of Hydropower
The advantages of hydropower systems include:
- Low cost of maintenance
- Fully renewable source
- Easy storage of hydro-energy
- Highly durable – plants can last 50 to 100 years
- High efficiency – roughly 90% of the kinetic energy of the water can be turned into power (solar only converts around 17%)
- Quick generation of electricity
Hydropower & Hydro Energy Systems
Hydropower systems use turbines in order to convert the kinetic energy of the water mass into the mechanical energy of turbine blades. The speed of the turbine blades is then increased using a gearbox or belt-drive, in order to drive a generator. Turbine blades require high-quality adhesives, sealants and lubricants in order to maintain efficiency and durability.
Generators are used within hydropower systems, connected to the turbine shaft, in order to generate electricity from the motion of the turbine. Generators must be kept in great working conditions, using quality products, as they are essential for the function of a hydropower system.
Transformers are used within hydropower systems in order to change the alternating current produced by the generators into a high voltage current. This high voltage current is then connected to the national grid and distributed among homes in the nation.
Hydropower plants, especially of the Pumped Storage type, use pumps to move water from a low elevation reservoir to a high elevation reservoir. Maintaining effective pumps, and avoiding pump failure, is an essential process for hydropower stations.
Adhesives and Sealants for Hydropower Construction & Maintenance
Adhesives, sealants and lubricants are used extensively for the construction and maintenance of hydropower systems. Poor maintenance of hydropower plants can have drastic consequences, such as equipment failures, environmental contaminations, loss of efficiency and ultimately, total plant failure. This can lead to costly repairs, unexpected downtimes and reduced power outputs.
Conversely, effective maintenance of hydropower systems can ensure great benefits, such as extended equipment lifetimes, improved plant safety, increased efficiencies and more sustainable power generation.
Requirements for Successful Hydropower Construction & Maintenance
To avoid costly repairs and unexpected downtimes, hydropower sub-systems, such as those mentioned in the previous section, must be maintained with high-quality products. For manufacturers, this means choosing products that are:
- Heat and pressure-resistant
- Environmentally-friendly (void of contaminants)
- Compatible with electrically insulating materials
- Highly durable
- Suitable for extreme temperatures
- Resistant to oxidation
Top Adhesives and Sealants for Hydropower
Araldite 2050 and 2051 are toughened methacrylate adhesives which can be used to bond and repair turbine blades. They are stable between -20ºC and 120ºC and provide great resistant to vibrational loads. They can be applied quickly and without pretreatment even in underwater applications.
Xiameter PMX-561 is a silicone liquid designed for cooling and insulating transformers. It can also be used as an alternative to organic transformer oil. It is highly stable over a wide temperature range, environmentally-friendly, and oxidation-resistant. With this product, you will be able to reduce power outages while extending the transformer service life. It can also be used for insulating high voltage switches and circuit breakers. Learn more about our silicone transformer liquid here.
Araldite 2014-2 is an epoxy adhesive which can be used for magnet bonding within generators. It is resistant to water and high-temperatures. Its gap-filling capabilities and minimal outgassing also make it ideal for bonding motors.
DOWSIL 732 is a silicone adhesive and sealant ideal for waterproofing pumps through sealing joints, connectors and wire entries. It provides excellent dielectric properties and is stable and flexible from -60ºC to 180ºC.
Molykote 111 silicone oil provides reliable performance over a wide temperature range. Its excellent water resistance allows hydropower users to optimise pump and generator performance by reducing the need for repairs due to unexpected leaks etc.
Krytox 1514 is a high-performance grease ideal for use in pumps in low-temperature environments. It provides pressure and temperature resistance and works well in processes where waste disposal and safety are of importance.