VRT has been involved in hydropower safety development since 2015; co-operating with Finnish dam safety authorities in validating new methods for underwater surveys and serving energy utilities in Northern Europe in underwater structural inspections.
Hydropower plants and dam structures are a quite familiar part of our surveyors’ and inspectors’ work, but we are always aiming to improve our expertise and knowhow. Our project engineer Visa Kraft is attending to the dam safety course in Tampere University to get more comprehensive understanding about the structures and functionalities of hydropower energy utilities.
Verifying the optimal maintenance of a hydropower plant
The planned lifecycle of a hydropower plant can be even hundred years; hence it is important to make sure that the facility’s maintenance is optimal.
“The course includes orientation to different structure types and possible defects influencing the function or safety of a hydropower plant. It has been interesting to learn new way of thinking about how our observations actually affect the plant”, Visa describes his experiences in the training.
The combination of multibeam sonar, laser and photographs from the field enables a thorough inspection of the structures’ condition. Even though the tiniest details still need to be examined by a diver, the amount of information gathered in one 3D survey is priceless.
3D surveys enhancing energy efficiency
“We get a comprehensive view of the structures and adjacent riverbed from the 3D survey. Most energy companies value the information they get about the factors affecting the waterflow. There can be erosion or accumulation due to the flow, and even remnants of a building project or old dam structures under water. These obstacles in the waterway naturally affect the efficiency of energy production”, Visa explains.
With the 3D point cloud, you can create surface models, which can then be used in flow simulations in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) software. This information is essential in planning the development or construction projects; a flow simulation may point out the most profitable development plans and save money. In hydropower industry the savings in construction projects are calculated in millions of euros.
If you want to learn more about the subject, our white paper describing different survey technologies in hydropower plant inspections is downloadable here. You can also contact us for more information via the form below.