HYDAC the answer for hydroelectric fluid power requirements

HYDAC the answer for hydroelectric fluid power requirements

Hydroelectric power stations make a significant and sustainable contribution to the world‘s energy supply.

HYDAC plays an important role in facilitating the flow of this versatile and reliable source of clean electricity generation and responsible water management and intends to ever increase its role through the many services it offers the hydropower industry

“This hinges off HYDAC's commitment to constructing clean and secure electricity systems and helping to achieve global net-zero targets,” HYDAC National Sales and Marketing Manager Peter Agius comments. 

HYDAC has an arsenal of resources available in this regard, including decades of experience in oil hydraulics and process water treatment. 

“Individual components such as accumulators, filters, valves, pumps, coolers, and sensors are constantly expanding our already sizable product range, ensuring that we speedily close all gaps and consistently meet all industry requirements.

“But it doesn’t stop there: we also provide complete and customised systems to meet all hydropower applications. HYDAC has been a long-time partner for key OEMs in the hydro industry and has supplied a vast number of hydraulic power packs to operate main inlet valves, governor systems, and flood gates to effectively and efficiently regulate and protect turbines.”

HYDAC and power generation capabilities

Water-glycol cooling circuits for hydropower plants

Heat can always be an issue in a system designed with rotating parts and excessive heating is synonymous with inefficiency and potential breakdowns.

The most recent development coming from HYDAC’s cooling division is the water-glycol cooling circuits (WGK) designed specifically for hydropower plants – with capacity of up to 30MW.

HYDAC Automation and Control Engineer Dirshan Daby explains that when energy is transported and converted, there are losses in the form of heat.

The HYDAC WGK is a compact system for closed cooling circuits that works with coolants such as water-glycol or water. The system consists of a motor-pump unit (either single pump or double pump for redundancy) with displacement ranging from 50-1500L/min to provide the desired flow for optimum cooling.

"With HYDAC electronics and control systems, additional smart sensors and valves can be added for peace of mind," Mr Daby says. 

“When energy is generated by hydropower plants, heat losses arise due to copper windings and bearings heating up. Applications such as generator, bearing oil, and control oil cooling are required to increase efficiency, keep bearing shells at a constant temperature and prevent other damage and increased wear.” 

The coolant is normally re-cooled via heat exchangers positioned underwater or via additional air coolers and plate heat exchangers 

WGK features include customisation to desired flow rate as a result of a modular cooling system and an optional redundant motor-pump unit for increased availability and safety and 3/2 way mixing valve to keep coolant at a constant temperature.

“The WGK’s modular structure lends itself to additional component supplementation according to requirement,” Mr Daby adds. 

Benefits to the customer include a compact and particularly low-maintenance system, easier planning due to consistent design, and quick and easy pressure vessel testing with low coolant loss.

“Taking all this into account it’s not surprising that HYDAC is the preferred partner for global OEMs like Voith and Andritz,” he says.

Successful association from the past gets HYDAC another contract to supply RF4 filters

Mr Agius says that a hydropower station approached HYDAC for assistance keeping contaminants at bay due to a successful association in the past. 

“In a nutshell, the hydropower station was using strainers to filter bearing water.  However, the strainers required manual intervention due to the extent of contaminants in the water - a task for which the hydropower station didn’t have the manpower or time,” Mr Agius explains. 

Hydac provided RF4W filters from its self-cleaning automatic backflushing filter range made from stainless steel 1.4571 or similar (group 316). These filters feature a backflush cycle that flushes out all the contaminants without interruption of clean water flow into the bearings, making for a maintenance-free operation.  

Clean-water supply without routine maintenance at hydropower station

Another hydropower station also looked to HYDAC for an innovative solution to help it cope with blocked filter strainers after heavy rainfall, especially taking into account that this condition could damage the sensitive mechanical seal of a turbine shaft.  

For the most part, this hydropower station is unmanned, which posed extra difficulties for management. 

HYDAC supplied AGL with its RF4 auto backwash filter - a low maintenance, self-cleaning water treatment filter. The filter was sized up to cater for a flow rate of 60L/min and a maximum pressure of 10 bar. Based on the water source and type of contamination present, a full stainless steel wedge wire with 100-micron rating was supplied," Mr Agius says.

“To date, the hydropower station has been running operations maintenance and trouble-free!”

Products for condition monitoring at hand

Mr Agius adds that HYDAC also supplies products for condition monitoring such as sensors for monitoring water content (Aqua Sensor), metallic contamination (MCS sensor), and the automatic oil cleanliness monitoring (CS sensor) along with service instruments for maintenance such as dewatering units (FAM), offline filtration units (OLF), nitrogen charging units for accumulators (N2 server) and mobile units for measurement and data acquisition (HMG). 

“Include in all of this HYDAC’s extensive fluid engineering services, which help to optimise your key components and fluid power systems," he says. 

“We are set up to support you in areas such as energy efficiency, process and system reliability, conservation of resources, and system availability.” 

Hydroelectricity generation outlook

The main companies involved in this industry include Hydro-Electric Corporation, Snowy Hydro, AGL Energy, CleanCo Queensland, and Origin Energy. 

IBISWorld research points out that revenue in 2019-2020 was $919.7 million, with annual growth from 2021 to 2026 at -9.4%. The annual growth rate for 2016-2026 is anticipated at 4.2 %. 

Profit for 2019-2020 was $77.3 million.

High level of capital intensity  

Mr Agius highlights that the hydroelectricity generation industry is highly capital-intensive, according to IBISWorld research.

For every dollar spent on labour in the current year, industry operators are expected to spend an estimated $0.96 on capital investment.  

Structural changes anticipated to impact energy production

Structural changes affecting energy production in Australia are anticipated to influence the hydroelectricity generation industry over the next five years, according to IBISWorld research.

The Morrison Government's plan to expand the Snowy River Scheme will mark the first significant large-scale expansion in the industry for decades, and changes in regulatory policy are likely, particularly as the Renewable Energy Target (RET) expires in the current year.  

As to wholesale electricity prices, they are forecast to recover over the period as demand for electricity recovers following the negative effects of Covid-19.

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