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What is hydroelectric power?

Hydroelectric power harnesses water’s potential energy and converts it into electrical energy. It is a simple process: falling or running water turns a turbine, which turns a generator, producing electricity.

What are the types of hydropower plants?

There are three types: impoundment, diversion or run-of-river, and pumped storage.
An impoundment facility, typically a large hydropower system, uses a dam to store river water in a reservoir. In a pumped storage facility, energy is stored by pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir when the demand for electricity is low. During periods of high electrical demand, the water is released back to the lower reservoir to generate electricity. A diversion facility, sometimes called run-of-river, channels a portion of a river through a canal or penstock. It may not require the use of a dam.

What are the basic components of a conventional hydroelectric power plant?

Dam –A dam is a large structure that holds back water, creating a reservoir where the power plant stores water that is used for generation. Some dams are multi-purpose since they are intended to be used for irrigation, flood control and potable water supply.
Headrace – A channel or waterway that carries water to the turbine.
Intake – Structure where water enters a hydroelectric power plant. Gravity pulls the water through to the penstock.
Penstock – A shaft or pipeline that leads from the intake to the turbine.
Turbine – When water strikes the blades of the turbine, energy is converted and drives the generator.The more common type of turbine design for larger hydroelectric plants, such as SNAP’s Magat, Ambuklao and Binga facilities, is the Francis turbine.
Generator – A rotating machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. As the turbine blades turn, so do a series of magnets inside the generator. This rotating part of the generator is called the rotor. The fixed component of the generator is called the stator. It is the cutting of electro-magnetic fluxes between these parts that create electrical energy.
Tailrace Outlet – Water that has passed the turbine is carried through this structure and re-enters the river downstream.

How does a hydropower system work?

Large hydroelectric power plants use the stored energy of water in reservoirs and allow its flow to drive hydraulic turbines. Water in the reservoir enters a hydroelectric power plant through an intake. The water flows through a penstock which channels the water to the turbine. The turbine is a mechanical device that converts water’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy, which in turn drives the generator. The generator is a rotating machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

What affects the amount of electricity generated by a hydroelectric power plant?

The amount of electricity that is generated is determined by several factors. Two of those factors are the volume of water flow and the amount of hydraulic head. The head refers to the distance between the water surface and the turbines. As the head and flow increase, so does the electricity generated. The head is usually dependent on the elevation of water in the reservoir. The efficiency of turbines and electric generators also determine the maximum amount of energy that can be generated from a hydroelectric resource.

What are the benefits of hydroelectric power?

It is renewable, because the water used to generate electricity is not depleted during the process. It is environment-friendly, clean and natural, harnessing the energy of flowing and falling water. It is reliable because hydropower can go from zero power to maximum output quickly, allowing it to meet changing demands for electricity. And because water from our rivers is a domestic resource, it is local and not subject to foreign exchange movement and logistical issues.

What is the first hydroelectric power plant in the Philippines?

The 22.6-megawatt Caliraya plant in Laguna was commissioned in 1942. The first among the large hydroelectric power plants are the 75-MW (now 105 MW)Ambuklao plant in Bokod, Benguet commissioned in 1956, and the 100-MW (now 125 MW)Bingaplant in Itogon, Benguet, commissioned in 1960.

Does SNAP own the dams?

No. Only the power components were privatized and bought by SNAP. The non-power components such as the dam and spillway remain government-owned.

What does it mean that Magat Dam is a “multi-purpose” dam?

The water in Magat Dam is prioritized for irrigation of about 85,000 hectares of agricultural lands of farmers in the Cagayan Valley primarily Isabela. Its other purposes are power generation and flood control.

Does the operation of SNAP-Magat affect the water supply for the farmlands?

No. SNAP uses the same water for irrigation for its power generation, and its use of water from the dam depends on the NIA’s irrigation diversion requirement (IDR).

Do weather conditions impact on SNAP’s operations?

Among power generation plants, hydropower is the most affected by seasonal changes because its natural resource is water. SNAP is aware that its operations go below the usual during the dry season. It also supports government authorities when they manage the dams during typhoons.

What does SNAP do to address water supply concerns?

There are many factors that affect water supply. SNAP contributes in addressing these concerns by implementing an efficient water utilization campaign among co-users in Isabela to promote better fish farming methods and install water regulating equipment. It also helps protect the Cordillera watershed through environment and alternative livelihood projects.

Is SNAP involved in dams operation?

Although SNAP-Benguet does not own the Ambuklao and Binga dams, it acts a spillway operator during normal conditions, such as when, among other conditions, there is no typhoon. National Power Corporation operates the dam under extraordinary conditions. The government-owned National Irrigation Administration is in charge of the Magat Dam.

What are the means by which the power facility structures are monitored?

SNAP-Benguet – independently or jointly with government authorities – implements regular programs to ensure the safety of reservoir operations and integrity of the dams. These include inspections, surveillance, upgrading, preparation of emergency plan, testing of warning systems, emergency response trainings, and emergency drills.

What happens during dams and reservoir operations?

During normal or routine operations, water is spilled for power generation or to avoid overtopping (overfilling) the dam when water has exceeded the full supply level.

How does SNAP mitigate the situation?

In the case of SNAP-Benguet, it promotes awareness and safety practices among community members during dams and reservoir operations in close cooperation with government authorities and local government. It also installs and upgrades warning systems distributed in the communities. SNAP also plans to hold river safety campaign in both Magat and Benguet sites.

What does it mean for Ambuklao and Binga to be registered “CDM projects”?

In 2008, SNAP-Benguet began rehabilitation work in Ambuklao which has been decommissioned since 1999, and in 2010, it also started the refurbishment of Binga to upgrade it. These were registered as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The registration means SNAP-Benguet met the criteria for sustainable development under the CDM process. Ambuklao and Binga hydropower plants will together produce an average of 180,000 carbon emission reduction credits (CERs) per year, equivalent to the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by about 80,000 cars.

How does SNAP engage its host communities?

SNAP implements a stakeholder engagement policy that facilitates regular communication and interaction with its host communities. Aside from mandated taxes and energy fund for host communities, SNAP also provides voluntary fund for programs that create shared value – covering environment, livelihood, education, governance, infrastructure and indigenous culture.


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