Theoretically, hydropower can ramp up in a matter of seconds or minutes. As a point of comparison, coal power plants, with large turbines, can take hours, even days, to ramp up.
This benefit translates to an interesting design challenge for HydroFlex because quick changes and variability put additional loads on the equipment. That is why water turbines are typically designed for constant, stable use.
Changes in the water flow cause unsteady loads and high-pressure fluctuations, especially when moving from no flow to high flow.
“If the turbine blades are not designed for the turbulence and pressure fluctuations, then they will experience a lot of fatigue,” says Dahlhaug. “Because you are changing the operations many times, every change and variation causes more fatigue, further reducing the life of the turbine.”
Unlike traditional hydropower turbines, HydroFlex’s designs mitigate the turbulence and pressure fluctuations caused by changing flow rates. As a result. its designs weather the fatigue created by these forces better than traditional turbines.