Optimization of the use of axial turbines in small hydro power plants in the Amazon

ABSTRACT The technical and economic optimization of electricity generation by small hydropower plants (SHP) with a low head in the Amazon is studied, in order to contribute to hydro energy studies of these SHP. The flow duration curves (FDC) needed to design hydropower generation were simulated using the Nonlinear Hydrological Model Simple with Sigmoidal Gain Factor (SVM). Due to seasonality inherent to the Amazon, SHP generation was considered using two axial turbines operating in parallel. For technical optimization the CARTHA program was used to obtain the axial turbine load curves, allowing the study of the influence of the type of regulation and the relationship of the powers of the turbines on the energy efficiency of SHP. Plants with double regulation turbines presented an efficiency of 80%, for rotor regulation 72% and for distributor regulation 65%. Three market scenarios were studied for economic optimization: sluggish, neutral and hot. The best technical and economic results were obtained for SHP with total power on the order of 30MW, equal turbines equipped with rotor regulation only, sluggish market, resulting to the return period of 1.7 years and profitability of 222%.