The operation of a dam

A hydro plant produces electricity through a waterfall between two levels of different heights, which sets in motion a turbine connected to an alternator.

1. The water retention

The dam retains the natural flow of water. Large amounts of water accumulate and form a reservoir.
2. Forced driving of water

Once the water is stored, valves are opened so that the water rushes into long metal pipes called forced pipes. These pipes lead the water to the hydraulic power station, located below.

Most hydraulic power plants in France are automated. Each plant starts according to a pre-defined program according to the electricity needs.
3. Electricity generation

At the exit of the pipe, in the power station, the force of the water rotates a turbine which in turn operates an alternator. Thanks to the energy provided by the turbine, the alternator produces an alternating electric current.

The power of the plant depends on the height of the waterfall and the flow of the water. The more important they are, the higher this power will be.
4. The adaptation of the tension

A transformer raises the voltage of the electric current produced by the alternator so that it can be more easily transported in very high and high voltage lines.

The turbined water that has lost its power joins the river by a special channel called tailrace.




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