2 June 2020
Hydro Power

Hydro Power is a very economical and reliable source of alternative energy. It can be harnessed from any stream or river with a significant elevation change.

It is simple to predict an approximate amount of energy that may be extracted at a site. However, implementation can be very difficult for standard construction companies. When implementing a hydro turbine system: extensive history of the stream must be analyzed, measures must be taken to protect the habitats of fish and other stream wildlife, the system must be built extremely reliable requiring little maintenance, and the correct governing authorities must be informed. These and many other criteria must be considered for an economical and reliable hydro system.

Aurora Power & Design has designed and installed many hydro systems, and understands the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this process. If you have a stream or existing hydro system, Aurora Power offers unmatched services in the areas of design, installation, and maintenance. If you would like to know more about our services or would like to receive an estimate, please contact us.

Browse micro hydro turbines and hydro turbine accessories in our online store.
Micro Hydro System Layout Minimize
Simplified layout of a micro hydro power plant. 

Micro Hydro System Diagram

Technical Vocabulary

Collects the water separating out leaves, sticks, sand, mud and other debris.
Penstock:  Pipe that carries water from the diversion down to the turbine.
Stream: Flowing water energy resource measured in head and flow rate.
Pelton Wheel Turbine: Device that converts the kinetic energy of the water into rotational motion.
Electrical Generator: Converts the rotational motion into usable electricity.
Tail Race: Channel to return the power generating water back to the stream.

How do you select a hydroturbine ? Minimize
The main information you need for selecting a hydro turbine is:

1. The Head (height the water drops vertically) - measured in feet
2. The Flowrate (how much water is running down the stream) - measuredin gallons/min or ft^3/s

With this information Aurora Power can easily help you select a hydro turbine that will be the most efficient and economical for your application.

The information below can help you find your streams head and flow rate. Once you have that information contact us and we will will be able to assist you further.
How do you meaure a streams "head" ? Minimize
"Head" is the vertical drop between an upstream location and downstream location.

A water fall's head is easy to measure, and is simply the vertical drop from water top to water top. This can easily be measured with a rope or a long tape measure. The head of a reservoir is measured in the same way.

Head measurement of a waterfall

To measure the head of a stream that travels a long distance is much harder. Before the computer age, many measurements had to be taken and put into trigonometric functions to calculate the head. Today however, there are two easier alternatives.

The first is GPS or Global Positioning System. Hand held GPS units can accurately determine the altitude of a location and are affordable. Simply find both elevations and subtract to get the head.

The other alternative is to use Google Earth. Google Earth is a free program distributed by Google.

Google Earth screen shot

To find the head of a stream simply move your cursor over the desired location and the elevation in feet will be displayed at the bottom of the screen. To get the head, simply subtract the two elevations.
How do you measure a streams "flow rate" ? Minimize
There are three main ways to determine a streams flow rate:

  1. Look it up.  Seasonal flow rate data for thousands of streams has been measured by the US Geological Survey and published on the USGS website

  2. Measure it.  You can measure flow rate a couple different ways:

    For small flow rates you can measure the time required for the stream to fill a 5 gallon bucket. Then take 300 and divide it by the number of seconds it took. This will give you a very accurate flow rate in gallons per minute. (ex. 23 seconds; 300/23 = 13.0 gallons per minute)

    Larger flow rates can be measured by installing a weir. A weir is simply a profile with given dimensions that the stream flows through. Once a weir is in place, you simply measure the height of the water. This water height is then put into equations that return very accurate flow rates. A weir is the most reliable and accurate way to measure large flow rates.

  3. Estimate it.  Estimating the stream flow may be accurate enough for your application.

    Stream flow estimation uses stream bed dimensions(depth and width),water height, edge roughness, and water velocity(measured with at floating object and a stopwatch).
What is an Electronic Load Controller? Minimize

An electronic load controller is an electronic device used in hydro power systems to control the rotational speed of the turbine and the the frequency of electrical power generated (ex. 60hz). They operate by automatically switching on and off heater loads to slow the turbines RPM. By adding them to existing stand-alone hydro systems the power quality can be greatly increased.

Electronic load controllers (ELCs) are mainly used in hydro power systems that are larger than 5kW in size. If you would like to know more about ELCs or are curious if they apply in your situation contact us.
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