Geosynthetics play a strong role in the hydroelectric infrastructure

Hydropower generates roughly 17% of the world’s electricity and 70% of global renewable energy. Canals, dams, pumped storage stations, and other engineered structures are all part of the vast hydroelectric infrastructure. Geosynthetics play a strong role in the sector, particularly in rehabilitation of aging hydroelectric facilities and in decreasing the construction costs and long-term maintenance needs of new facilities.

For hydroelectric canal systems, which provide operational waters to generation stations or navigation ways around generation points, a variety of geosynthetics are used. Geomembranes can provide cleaner, swifter flow of hydroelectric water supplies, just as geosynthetic clay liners can. Pumped storage systems are highly efficient means for balancing electrical grids. Water can be stored during non-peak times and released at peak into the hydroelectric generation system. In this way, strain on the system and the cost of responding to fluctuating electrical demands decreases. Geosynthetic barriers, such as Carbofol® geomembranes and Bentofix® GCLs, are used to provide storage security in these facilities to increase operational efficiency.

With dams and power stations, geosynthetic reinforcement can be used to replace more conventional and significantly more expensive concrete retaining walls. For example, the use of a Naue m3 system for the wing walls of a hydropower station in Turkey saved 40% on the originally proposed concrete wall design. The use of Secugrid® geogrids and nonwoven geotextiles in the MSE system also replaced what would have required 700 trucks of special concrete pour.

Whether construction is new or a site is being rehabilitated, geosynthetics make hydroelectric power applications more economical and efficient. Waterways can be deepened, retaining walls can be built with signifi cantly smaller carbon footprints, erosion can be removed from the system, stored water supplies can be more sustainable, and much more.

Renewed Life

While hydroelectric energy continues to develop steadily, a good amount of the existing infrastructure is quite old and requires rehabilitation to continue operations. The Hohenwarte pumped storage facility in Germany is a strong example. After 50 years of operation, the 320 MW-facility renewed its safety and relevance by updating the storage area with Bentofix® GCLs and Secudrain® geocomposites.

Drainage Management

Geosynthetic drainage systems provide capacity and control. For hydroelectric systems, this is often related to the slopes of storage facilities. The use of a geocomposite drainage solution such as Secudrain® provides capacity for removing water and controlling sedimentation. This combination keeps the overall system cleaner and reduces the impact of rising water on an engineered slope. The Secudrain® line includes multiple constructions to accommodate a site’s unique capacity and flow rate requirements.

Safety with geosynthetics

Geosynthetics provide hydraulic engineering with what they need:

  • Excellent filtration properties

  • Robustness and long-term performance

  • Excellent chemical resistance

  • Excellent chemical resistance

  • Protection of barrier systems with Secutex® nonwovens