Gravitational vortex hydroelectric plant

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Gravitational vortex hydropower plant

For off-grid communities like ours trying to achieve self-sufficiency, a source of clean, sustainable and reliable electricity is critical. As we plan on implementing a high level of technology, we need to generate a lot of power. Hydropower was selected as the best solution for providing the energy needs of our community. The water conditions on our land are not suitable for traditional hydroelectric technology (such as Pelton turbines), so we are implementing a relatively new technology, the gravitational water vortex plant. This system is suitable for rivers such as ours that have high flow but low head (small drop in altitude).

About a year ago we began constructing the river-side infrastructure for the hydroelectric plant and designing the geometry of the vortex tank. Work stopped over the wet-season as the river was too high, and we began again in May this year. We decided to place most of the critical infrastructure inland of the river to protect it from flooding and debris coming down the river. Currently we are excavating the hole for the tank and the inlet and exit channels. This is all being dug by hand as we cannot access the site with (even small) machinery. The next step is forming the cement walls and floor of the channels and tank, then constructing the river-side part (protection gate, dykes etc.). In parallel we are designing the turbine and generator systems which we plan to construct, install and test ourselves.    

We are approaching this project like most of our endeavors – we start knowing very little but with lots of enthusiasm, use the bounty of information provided by the internet for research, jump in, make some mistakes and learn a lot along the way!

Photos of the whole construction process of the vortex can be found in the Gallery and we will keep updating progress here.