What is the operation and maintenance cost of a Hydro power plant?
Hydropower is becoming a more popular source of energy due to the benefits it provides communities. Some of the main advantages are that hydropower is fuelled completely by water, a readily available resource. In addition, it enables communities to produce their own source of energy instead of paying extortionate amounts form international fuel suppliers. Since water is a renewable energy source, it is much more reliable and affordable and there is no need to worry about the resource being depleted at some point in the future. Another surprising benefit is that hydropower creates reservoirs that can provide other opportunities such as fishing and recreational activities.
There are three main types of hydropower systems: diversion, impoundment and pumped storage. Hydropower plants differ in size form small systems suitable for home use to large mass scale power plants producing electricity for whole areas.
As with all power plants, maintenance is involved in the successful running and operating of a hydropower system. One of the largest tasks is ensuring that there is not a buildup of debris on the intake screen, especially after bad weather, such as storms and floods. It may be wise and beneficial in the long term to invest in an automatic screen cleaning system which will automatically keep screens clear.
Other maintenance costs would include grease lubrication once a month and every 2 to 3 years you would need to change the hydraulic fluids. If a drive belt is fitted, this would typically need replacing every 3 years. According to the manufacturers’ claims, the generator bearings should last up to 15 years before the need to be changed although they should be checked and serviced every two years. Factors which have an impact on the longevity of the bearings include their quality, regularity of inspections and maintenance.
Other hydropower maintenance costs to think about are labour costs, electrical costs- for connecting to the electricity distribution grid- and planning and project management fees.
As an installation of a small hydropower plant can start at around £40,000, there may be finance options available to help you fund your project. There are some loans and leasing agreements available in the UK offering financial help which will avoid large initial costs.
For all your operation and maintenance needs, Hallidays Hydropower offer a range of options tailored to your needs to help with services such as: general servicing, system timing, routine part replacement, emergency call out and operation and maintenance tuition workshops.
The operation and maintenance cost of hydro power plants vary depending on the size, head and type of hydro turbine design. As a rough guide, you can expect the following estimated annual operational costs.
5kw maximum power output = £2,000
25kw maximum power output = £4,000
50kw maximum power output = £6,000
100kw maximum power output = £11,000
250kw maximum power output = £25,000
500kw maximum power output = £48,000
Installing hydropower systems can be a worthwhile investment and can build up long-term cash flows. With a typical life expectancy of 40 years or more, it is a long-term solution to creating power in a more sustainable way.