Written by Riki Argyropoulou, junior surveyor at Wattcrop
What is hydroelectric power?
Hydroelectric power is a form of renewable energy that harnesses the power of water to generate electricity. It works by using the kinetic energy of falling water or the movement of water through a turbine to spin a generator, which produces electricity. The water used in hydroelectric power can come from various sources, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.
The process of generating hydroelectric power begins with the construction of a dam or a water diversion structure, which is used to create a large reservoir. Water is then released from the reservoir, and its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy as it falls down a steep incline. This moving water then drives the turbines, which spin the generator and produce electricity.
The potential for solar PV to enhance hydropower plants.
Hydropower is a reliable and efficient renewable energy source, but it has some limitations. One of the main limitations is that it is dependent on water availability, which can vary throughout the year. However, by integrating solar photovoltaic (PV) technology with hydropower plants, it is possible to enhance their overall performance and increase their contribution to the energy mix.
The integration of solar PV with hydropower plants has several benefits. Firstly, solar PV can be used to supplement the power generated by the hydropower plant during periods of low water availability. This can help to ensure that the plant is able to operate at its maximum capacity throughout the year, and that energy generation is more consistent.
Secondly, the addition of solar PV to a hydropower plant can help to reduce the overall cost of energy production. By generating electricity from solar PV during the daytime, when demand is typically high, the hydropower plant can reduce its reliance on more expensive peak-load generation methods. This can result in significant cost savings and reduce the plant’s carbon footprint.
In addition to these benefits, the integration of solar PV with hydropower plants can also help to address some of the environmental concerns associated with hydropower. For example, some environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact of large-scale hydropower projects on local ecosystems and the displacement of communities. By reducing the need for additional hydropower projects, solar PV can help to mitigate some of these environmental concerns.
There are a few challenges that need to be overcome to effectively integrate solar PV with hydropower plants. One of the main challenges is the need for appropriate infrastructure and storage capacity. This includes the installation of solar panels, inverters, and batteries, which can be expensive and time-consuming. However, the cost of these technologies is rapidly decreasing, and there are now many companies that specialize in the integration of solar PV and hydropower systems.
The potential for solar PV to enhance hydropower plants is significant. By supplementing the power generated by hydropower plants, reducing costs, and mitigating some of the environmental concerns associated with large-scale hydropower projects, the integration of solar PV with hydropower can help to create a more reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy system.
Hydroelectric power infrastructure in Greece.
Greece has a relatively small hydroelectric power infrastructure compared to other European countries, with hydropower accounting for about 8% of the country’s total electricity generation capacity. The majority of Greece’s hydropower plants are located in the mountainous regions of the country, particularly in the Peloponnese and central and northern Greece.
The largest hydroelectric power plant in Greece is the Kastraki Dam, which is located in the Acheloos River and has a capacity of 440 MW. Other major hydroelectric power plants in Greece include the Platanovryssi Dam (120 MW) and the Polyfytos Dam (84 MW).
Despite the relatively small size of its hydropower infrastructure, Greece has recently shown an increasing interest in the development of renewable energy sources, including hydropower. The Greek government has set a target of achieving 35% of its electricity generation from renewable sources by 2030, and hydropower is expected to play an important role in achieving this target.
One potential area for the development of hydropower in Greece is the construction of pumped storage facilities. These facilities use excess energy from wind and solar power to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir, which can then be used to generate electricity when demand is high. The Greek government has identified several potential locations for pumped storage facilities, including the regions of Crete, the Peloponnese, and Epirus.
There are several benefits of hydroelectric power in Greece:
- Energy Security: Hydroelectric power provides energy security for Greece. It is a domestically produced source of energy that reduces the country’s reliance on imported fossil fuels. This is important for a country like Greece, which has historically been vulnerable to energy supply disruptions due to its geographic location.
- Drought Resilience: Greece is also prone to droughts, which can have a significant impact on agriculture and other industries. Hydroelectric power plants can be used to store water during periods of high rainfall, which can then be released during dry periods to maintain water levels and provide energy.
- Employment: Hydroelectric power plants provide jobs for local communities. These jobs can range from skilled labor for the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure to administrative and support roles.
In conclusion, while Greece’s hydroelectric power infrastructure is relatively small, the country has identified hydropower as an important part of its efforts to transition to a more sustainable and renewable energy system. While there are some environmental concerns associated with hydroelectric power, the benefits far outweigh the costs. With its mountainous terrain and potential for pumped storage facilities, Greece has the potential to significantly increase its hydropower capacity in the coming years.