For centuries men have utilised water-(hydro-) power to drive mills, pumps and other machines. Today hydro-power is the largest single source of renewable energy in the world and one of the most environmentally compatible methods of energy production. In Germany, it provides some 5 % of the total electricity generated. In Norway, it accounts for 95 %. Modern hydro-electric power plants using modern technology are extremely efficient.
Water flowing geographically from a higher to a lower level sets free energy which can be utilised by hydro-electric generators. The volume of water and its hight of fall determine the type of turbine to be employed and how efficiently the generator can operate. Today's standard turbines are technically fully proven and available in high-quality versions using few parts susceptible to wear and tear.
Accordingly, a hydro-electric generating plant can achieve an useful working life of 60, 80 or even 100 years without the need for major repairs. Techniques of automatic monitoring and controlling are being continually improved. Turbines with a rated performance of up to 5 Megawatt are of our particular interest. They are fully automatized and remotely controlled to the extent that they can be operated without any supervision at all.
These so called small hydro power stations are highly valuable for the stable operation of he electrical distribution grid due to their close neighbourhood to the electrical consumers.
Hydro-electric generating plants are extraordinarily efficient due to:
- their continuous operation
- modern control concepts and monitoring techniques
- low operating costs
- reliability of operation
- extremely long life time with minimal wear and tear