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Factors Affecting the Location of Hydroelectric Power Plant Dams

written by: Haresh Khemani • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 9/30/2008

The dam or water reservoir is a crucial part of the hydroelectric power plants. Water stored in the dams is used for generating electricity in hydroelectric power plants. This article discusses factors affecting the location of dams for hydroelectric power plants.

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    Issues with Dams

    The dam also called as water reservoir is the most important part of the hydroelectric power plants. All the water that is used for generation of electricity in the hydroelectric power plants is stored in the dam. Since huge quantities of water are stored in the dam, it is very important that the bed and walls of the dam should be able to sustain all the hydraulic pressures of water. Water has mass and large quantities of water have huge weight which is exerted on the bed and the walls of the dam. If the walls of the dam are not strong enough to sustain the forces of water, the walls will break and water will spread to the surrounding areas producing devastating floods that have potential to cause large scale destruction of human, animal and plant life.

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    Factors Affecting the Selection of Site for Dams

    Apart from the construction of the dam, selecting proper site for the dam is very crucial. Selecting the proper site will help carrying out construction of the strong dam and it will also help reduce risks due to natural disasters like earth quake. Here are some of the important factors to be considered while selecting the site for the dam for hydroelectric power plants:

    1) Good topographical location along the path of river: The best location along the path of the river is river canyon or at the location where there is narrowing of the river. If the aim is to store maximum amount of water, then the volume of basin above dam should be calculated so that sufficient quantity of water can be stored in it. The perfect site is one where there is wide and flat valley.

    2) Right geological structure: The rock structure on which the dam will be constructed should be strong enough to sustain the weight of dam and water stored in the dam. The rock structure should be able to sustain all the visible and invisible forces. The rock structure should be stable and there should be least occurrence of the earthquakes in the region. The rock structure should not allow the seepage of water and it should be waterproof.

    3) Sufficient water is available: The flow of water where dam is constructed should be sufficient enough to fill the dam. There is lots of loss of water from dam due to evaporation, the flow of river water should be able accommodate this loss of water without affecting the production of electricity from the hydroelectric power plant.

    People living around the areas where storage basin is going to be constructed and the areas that will be submerged should be convinced to move from there and they should be given proper compensation and suitable resettlement areas. If this factor is ignored the chances of the success of the hydroelectric power plant will reduced.

Dam in Hydroelectric Power Plants

Dam or water reservoir are the most important part of the hydroelectric power plants. Water stored in the dam carries potential energy. This series of articles covers important topics related to dams like types of dams, factors affecting selection of location for dams, risk factors with dams etc.
  1. Types of Dams in Hydroelectric Power Plants
  2. Factors Affecting the Location of Hydroelectric Power Plant Dams