Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” He knew the value of preparation. And so it is with hydro electric power: in order to maximise the efficiency and reliability of the turbine, and to avoid excessive maintenance or downtime costs, it is imperative to manage water inflows through carefully designed intake structures that are tailored to the unique conditions of a particular scheme.

Whether a dam, weir, a coanda intake, or a lateral intake configuration is appropriate, it must be designed in a way that efficiently and robustly manages the sediments, bed-load and floating debris that may be present in the headwater, delivering a clean and reliable supply of water to the plant, while at the same time minimising hydraulic losses, ongoing maintenance costs, and plant downtime.

Designing the right intake and associated gates starts with a full understanding of the site conditions (aquatic, geological, hydraulic, structural and economic) and the best way in which to “prepare” the water quality prior to the intake which minimises head loss and any environmental impact. Planning will consider the entire scheme and the case for a weir, dam, lateral intake, or drop intake, and any necessary silt or desanding basins, trashracks, sluicing gates, spillways and floating booms.

Clearly the intake is not an element which can be considered in isolation, which is why KGAL engineers don’t silo HPP components without an awareness of the bigger picture; the pre and post intake conditions. And because our experience and knowledge of hydro is both deep and comprehensive, we are best placed to provide asset owners (and potential owners) with an objective response, sound advice and professional project management.

The images show (l-r) the Gamblebrufoss power station intake in Norway for which KGAL designed new gates, and an intake from Scottish Power’s storage reservoir at Loch Doon. The Galloway hydro-electric scheme comprises two reservoirs, eight dams and six power stations.