Operation of Norwegian Hydropower Plants and Its Effect on Block Fall Events in Unlined Pressure Tunnels and Shafts
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionWater. 2021, 13 (11), . https://doi.org/10.3390/w13111567
The main objective of this study is to investigate the effect of hydropower plant operation on the long-term stability of unlined pressure tunnels of hydropower plants in Norway. The authors analyzed the past production data of some hydropower plants to find out the number of starts/stops and the frequency and magnitude of load changes. The study demonstrates that an average of 200–400 start/stop events are occurring per turbine per year for the analyzed period, with an increasing trend. Currently, 150–200 large load changes per turbine smaller than 50 MW are occurring every year, and this is expected to increase by 30–45% between 2025 and 2040 for one of the studied power plants. Most importantly, the monitored pressure transients and pore pressure response in the rock mass during real-time operation at Roskrepp power plant are presented. A new method is proposed to calculate and quantify the hydraulic impact (HI) of pressure transients on rock joints and the effect of duration of shutdown/opening, which is found to be the most dominant parameter affecting the magnitude. The results show that faster shutdown sequences cause unnecessary stress in rock mass surrounding pressure tunnel. The hydraulic impact (HI) can be more than 10 times higher when the shutdown duration is reduced by 50 percent. The study recommends that duration of normal shutdowns/openings in hydropower plants should be slower so that hydraulic impacts on the rock joints are reduced and cyclic hydraulic fatigue is delayed, prolonging the lifetime of unlined pressure tunnels and shafts.