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Water resource

assessment for a
hydropower site
Relevance of surveys, data
assessment and analyses to
the success of a hydropower
project (HPP)
Why? (Relevance)
Mitigating project risks through realistic assessment and analysis.

Key Challenge: (Small) hydro power planning (HPPP) and

development involves a number of risks which may deter developers
and investors.
 Hydrological Risk
 Construction Risk
 Risk of Design Flaws
 Social and Environmental Risks
 Political Risks

Detailed site assessment, appropriate analysis and project

preparation leads to a vast mitigation of these risks. Most risks can
be identified and their potential impact can be quantified in risk
and sensitivity analyses.
When? (Relevance)
Right timing reduces the risk of needless cost and conflict.

Site Surveying and Data Collection:

 should be conducted, if an Initial Technical Project Assessment (‘Desk

Study’) comes to the conclusion that a site is potentially attractive.

 should only be conducted, if there is a realistic chance that a potential

project can be funded and implemented (Particularly for rural
electrification projects: Avoid raising expectations among local
population that can not possibly be fulfilled later!)

 should be conducted during times with potentially lowest stream flows

Required data and field
Data is collected should be critical for
successful technical and financial planning
Hydrological • flow duration (project optimisation, design flow)
Analysis • flood flows (technical safety of project components)
Topographical • head available for power generation
Mapping • optimum positions and alignment for structures
• distances for transmission
• accessibility
Geological • stability of structures
Analysis (the degree to which these investigations are conducted depends on type and
dimension of structures)
Social and • identify demand (off-grid electrification)
Environmental • to identify potential risks / conflicts and means for mitigation
Studies • feasibility to fulfil obligations of legislation, donors & lenders

Neglecting any of these assessments leads to errors in optimisation

and design, eventually reflected in the project’s feasibility
Why resource assessment?
 The first step in designing a hydro power plant (HPP)
is to evaluate the power potential i.e. the water
resource by measuring the head (vertical drop) and
the flow of the stream (discharge or flow rate)

 These two parameters are required to estimate the

power potential of the plant
Recall: Power
Power output is proportional to the combination of head and flow

Power (kW) = constant (m/s2) × Head (m) × Flow (m3/s)

The equation does not include efficiency of system

components (e.g. civil work, turbine, generator etc.)
Actual efficiency varies with conditions.
Critical information during project planning and
optimisation are the available flow and head

PEL    g  Qd  H n
Design Discharge Qd:
Very critical value, based on complex
hydrological analysis.
• too high Qd: Hydro power plant (HPP) Net Head Hn:
oversized, expected annual generation not Very critical value, but relatively
achieved, revenue stream smaller than easy to determine with
required, financial viability critical topographic survey.
• too low Qd: HPP dimensioned too small, • wrong Hn : leads to mismatch
more attractive development solution of turbine (strong impact)
• wrong Qd: not matching peak efficiency point
of installed turbine
Measuring Head
Measuring Head
Several methods exist for measurement of the available head. Some
methods are more suitable on low-head sites, but are too tedious and
inaccurate on high-heads. It is always advisable to take several separate
measurements of the head at each site.

 stick with carpenters level

 Sight level
 Water level
 Pipe with pressure gauge
 GPS Unit
 Transit
 Topo map
 Altimeter
Hydrological study –
Measurement of flow
Why is a hydrological assessment essential?
Hydrological study
• The purpose of a hydrology study is to predict the variation in the
flow during a given period mainly in a year.

• Since the flow varies from day to day, a one-off measurement is

of limited use.

• In absence of any hydrological analysis, a long-term measuring

system may be set up.

• Such a system is often used to reinforce the hydrological

approach and is also the most reliable way of determining actual
flow at a site.

• One-off measurements are useful to give a spot check on

hydrological predictions
Flow, 3
Qm /s
 Flow sometimes referred to as discharge is defined as
the flow rate leaving a hydraulic structure, such as a

 In some hydroelectric projects with sufficient storage,

flow values may change dramatically throughout the

 In some cases, the flow may be released only a few

hours a day to meet peak electricity demands.
The flow measuring techniques
discussed here are:
1. the bucket method
 small stream, small waterfall
2. the float method
 Larger, flat, uniform stream
3. the weir method
 V-notch Weir
 Rectangular Weir
4. the salt gulp method
5. current meters
Necessary  to make
several measurements to
assess seasonal variation
Flow prediction by
area-rainfall method

Used to predict average annual

stream flow rate called “run-off”
Hydrology Catchments
Catchments: Estimating area: Blocking
Catchments: Estimating area: Counting squares

For example the catchment area “A” is made up of 135 squares. The scale of the
map is one inch to one mile, and the squares area are 3mm x 3mm. Area found to
be 4.88 km2 , effectively 5km2, as the hydrology calculations are never precise.
Run-off: Components

It should be noted that sub-surface flow may increase the river flow
or reduce it, if the catchment is below higher watershed areas.
Run-off: Components
 Transpiration
 Water used by plants and returned to the atmosphere
 Evaporation
 Water evaporated directly from surface puddles
 Soil water
 Water retained by the soil
 Overland flow
 water running on the surface
 Interflow
 Water flowing underground but feeding the water course
 Groundwater accreditation
 Water lost to groundwater
Spatial interpolation: Thiessen method: Limitations

 Not applicable if rainfall is dominated by topography,

intense convection or very localised rainfall

 Can be unnecessarily time consuming as catchment

becomes smaller and rain gauges are more spaced
out – simple distance weighting may be adequate
Important: Site Assessment
 Head

 Flow

 Duration and power

Flow Duration Curve

Estimation of Power and Energy

Flow duration model
 Flow duration curve (FDC) is a simple graphical depiction
of variability of flow at a location without any reference
to the sequence in which this flow would be available.

 The FDC  a cumulative frequency curve showing the

%ge of time flow in a stream is likely to equal or exceed
some specified flow value.

 FDC developed for different periods: daily, weekly,

monthly, yearly etc.
Applications of Flow Duration Curves
 FDC are applied for a number of hydrological problems
related to hydropower generation, river and reservoir
sedimentation, water quality assessment, water-use
assessment etc.

 Hydropower design and hydro potential calculation

require stream flow data which can be obtained from
the FDC.

 FDCs help in studying the flow characteristics of streams

and for comparing streams
Example of FDC
Determining Flow Duration Curves
1. Get flow records (N) and arrange flows in chronological order

2. Sort out or rank the average monthly (or daily) discharges for the
period of record from the largest value to the smallest value
involving a total 'ne' number of values.

3. Assign each discharge value a rank m (m=1 for the highest value
and m = N for the lowest value).

4. Calculate the exceedance probability for each value

MS-excel can be used to prepare flow-duration curve. The excel

function "RANK" can be used to calculate the rank and the data can
be arranged in descending order in Spreadsheet
Date Flow Rate, m3/s
Example: Flow May 1st 0.25

Duration Curves May 2nd

May 3rd
May 4th 1
Consider average daily flow May 5th 0.6
May 6th 4.5
May 7th 3
May 8th 2.4
May 9th 1.9
May 10th 1.3
May 11th 1.2
May 12th 0.8
May 13th 2.2
May 14th 0.5
May 15th 0.45
May 16th 0.75
May 17th 2.6
May 18th 0.7
May 19th 0.3
May 20th 0.9
Example: Flow Duration Curves …
hydrograph showing how the flow rate varied over a period of time
Example: Flow Duration Curves…
Date Flow Rate, m3/s
May 6th 4.5
May 7th 3
May 17th 2.6
May 8th 2.4
To construct a FDC, the data is listed May 13th 2.2
in order of the size of the flow rate, May 9th 1.9
May 3rd 1.6
from highest to lowest May 10th 1.3
May 11th 1.2
May 4th 1
May 20th 0.9
May 12th 0.8
May 16th 0.75
May 18th 0.7
May 5th 0.6
May 14th 0.5
May 15th 0.45
May 2nd 0.4
May 19th 0.3
Example: Flow Duration Curves…
0 Percentage exceedance
4.5 5
3 10
2.6 15
2.4 20
rather than plotting the flow 2.2 25
rates against a date, the flow 1.9 30
rates are plotted against a 1.6 35
1.3 40
‘percentage exceedance’ scale 1.2 45
1 50
0.9 55
0.8 60
0.75 65
0.7 70
0.6 75
0.5 80
0.45 85
0.4 90
0.3 95
0.25 100
Example: Flow Duration Curves …
Example: Flow Duration Curves …
Qd, m3/s = 1.8
Can be combined with power
g (m/s2) = 9.816
curve. Assume the following site Hd head (m) = 151
parameters: Efficiency = 0.75
Determining Hydropower Capability from Power
Duration Curve
To take into consideration the coupling of the variables hydraulic
head and flow, this analysis computes potential capacity using a
power exceedance curve This curve shows the percentage of time
that power levels are exceeded using daily historical records and
power equation
Determining Hydropower Capability from Power
Duration Curve …
 Using this curve, one rule-of-thumb estimate for potential
capacity would be to develop a capacity value that captures 70%
of the energy of the river, which would correspond to the 30%
probability of exceedance shown in the curve.

 However, the goal of any hydropower site study is to look beyond

one capacity and to consider a possible range of capacity values
and test their feasibility.

 To accomplish this goal, nine significant exceedance points are

picked from the duration curve, corresponding to the 1%, 10%,
20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, and 80% exceedance