Once again it is difficult to make generalisations about the physical size of hydropower systems. Low-head hydropower systems take up much more space than high-head hydropower systems because the turbine has to be physically large to get a higher flow rate through it with only a low water pressure across the turbine. On smaller (<25 kW) systems it is possible to not have a turbine house and instead have a steel-fabricated turbine enclosure with a weatherproof cladding.
Penstock pipework is normally buried, so is out of sight and doesnt affect the size of hydropower systems. On low-head sites the intake and discharge channels can be covered over and turf laid, so are effectively invisible. Even though penstock pipes and channels can be invisible when the system is finished, bear in mind the size of the excavations required during the construction phase.
The table below gives indicative dimensions for the main system parts to give you an idea of turbine house sizes, diameters of pipes and cross sectional areas of channels and intake screens. In this example ‘low-head’ is assumed to have a net head of 2.5 metres and ‘high-head’ 50 metres.
|Low-head Hydropower Sites||High-head Hydropower Sites|
|Max. Power Output||Turbine House Footprint||Intake Channel Area||Intake Screen Area||Turbine House Footprint||Penstock Pipe Diameter|
|5 kW||6 m2||1 m2||2 m2||2 m2||0.125 metres|
|25 kW||16 m2||3 m2||6 m2||4 m2||0.28 metres|
|50 kW||20 m2||6 m2||12 m2||5 m2||0.40 metres|
|100 kW||36 m2||12 m2||24 m2||9 m2||0.56 metres|
|250 kW||64 m2||30 m2||60 m2||16 m2||0.90 metres|
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