Ohio run-of-the-river hydroelectric power 4 projects totaling 300 MW for $1.7 billion

[There are limited places on rivers to put these so this a really tiny silver bullet, and there is often opposition from environmentalists, but if you’re lucky enough to have a river nearby that flows constantly it’s more reliable than wind or solar power. Alice Friedemann www.energyskeptic.com]

American Municipal Power plans to spend $1.7 billion dollars on 300 MW of power along the Ohio river.

A run-of-river project does not require a large reservoir and projects tend to be on a smaller scale. Run-of-river projects also need to be built on a river with a consistent and steady flow (mostly natural). By definition, a run-of-river plant can only have storage for no more than 48 hours of water supply. The main structure of a run-of-river plant is simply to redirect water flow from a weir (a small headpond) towards the penstock (delivery pipe), which feeds the water downhill to the power station. The natural force of gravity generates the energy used to spin the turbines located in the power station which converts the energy from the water to generate electricity. After this process, the water is redirected back to the natural flow of the river.

AMP is in the later stages of construction on four run-of- the-river hydro projects at existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locks and dams along the Ohio River. With run- of-the-river facilities, a portion of the water that normally would flow through the dam is diverted to the generation facility and river ecology remains un-impacted. This significantly minimizes any environmental impacts. The AMP projects are being built at existing locks and dams, which were constructed decades ago for navigation, to control river levels and to allow for hydro development. The four projects under various stages of construction and commissioning – Cannelton, Meldahl and Smithland in Kentucky and Willow Island in West Virginia – will add more than 300 megawatts (MW) of new hydropower. This represents the largest deployment of new run-of-the-river hydro in the nation.

Even with the practical limitations of run-of-the-river hydroelectric generation, the technology proves to be more reliable and efficient than both wind and solar, especially in the Midwest. Run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects — projects using the energy of water flowing over existing dams — achieve capacity factors of 55-60 percent. This means that of the 8,760 hours of the year, the facilities are able to capture 55-60 percent of that potential energy. Compare that to wind, which in the Midwest has a capacity factor in the 20-30 percent range, and solar in the 15-18 percent range. That’s a significant difference and one that impacts the overall efficiency of the projects.

Hydroelectric projects are less intrusive, have better base load capabilities, have lower operation and maintenance costs, no fuel risks, limited regulatory risk and a longer lifespan.

AMP signed a more than $423-million contract with York, Pennsylvania-based Voith Hydro for turbines and generators for the hydroelectric projects currently under construction.

The Cannelton Project will divert water from the existing Army Corps of Engineers Cannelton Dam through bulb turbines to generate an average gross annual output of about 458 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). The site will include an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse will house three horizontal 28-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with an estimated total rated capacity of 84 MW at a gross head of 25 feet.

The $500 million dollar Meldahl Hydroelectric facility, currently under construction, will become the largest hydroelectric power plant on the Ohio River with an estimated capacity of 105 MW. Meldahl is a run-of-the-river project on the Captain Anthony Meldahl Locks and Dam located near Maysville, Kentucky, approximately an hour southeast of Cincinnati. The project will divert water from the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dam through bulb turbines to generate an average gross annual output of approximately 558 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). The site will include an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse, and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse will house three horizontal 35-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with a FERC licensed estimated total rated capacity of 105 MW.

The Smithland hydroelectric facility, currently under development, will add 72 MW of new, renewable generation to the region. The plant is located near Smithland, Kentucky. The Smithland project will divert water from the existing Corps Smithland Locks and Dam through bulb turbines to generate an average gross annual output of approximately 379 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). The site will include an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse will house three horizontal FERC rated 24-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with an estimated total rated capacity of 72 MW at a gross head of 22 feet. A 2.5-mile-long 161 kV transmission line interconnection is planned to connect to MISO. Smithland is located approximately 62 river miles upstream of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, in Livingston County, Ky.

The Willow Island hydroelectric facility, currently under development, will add 35 MW of new, renewable generation to the region. The plant is located near St. Marys, West Virginia. The Willow Island project will divert water from the existing Corps Willow Island Locks and Dam through bulb turbines to generate an average annual output of approximately 239 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). The site will include an intake approach channel, a reinforced concrete powerhouse and a tailrace channel. The powerhouse will house two horizontal FERC rated 17.5-MW bulb-type turbine and generating units with an estimated total FERC rated capacity of 35 MW at a gross head of 20 feet. A 1.6-mile-long 138 kV transmission line interconnection is planned to connect to PJM. The Willow Island Locks and Dam are located in Pleasant County, West Virginia, approximately 162 river miles downstream of Point Bridge, Pittsburgh. The Willow Island project is under construction on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River, on the opposite shore of the locks.

Also see:

http://www.amppartners.org/docs/default-source/regulatory-legislative-comments/legislative/2013/gerken_written_testimony_2013.pdf?sfvrsn=2

 

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