Penstocks: Providing flow to the heartbeat of hydroelectric facilities


Hydroelectric facility owners and operators have a myriad of items and issues with which to deal that have an affect on generating power. Penstocks are one of the items crucial to flow arriving to a powerhouse, the “heartbeat” of facilities.

Many penstocks installed that are 50 to 100 years old are approaching the end of their safe, reliable, and useful service life. As deterioration progresses, continued maintenance may not be economically justifiable, and owners must choose either to replace or abandon a penstock. The most common replacement materials are steel, fiberglass-reinforced polymer (FRP) or concrete.

Maintaining above ground and underground penstocks are vital to facilities. Depending on the scheme, these pipelines are comparatively inaccessible and difficult to replace.

For steel penstocks, the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation recommends the following for inspecting penstocks:

− A visual observation of exposed penstocks should be performed through a monthly walkdown by operations personnel;
− If this observation is not practical because of excessive length, rough terrain, etc., then the walkdown should be performed at least once a year;
− The interior and exterior surfaces of penstocks and pressure conduits should be visually examined every two to three years to note the condition of the linings and coatings; and
− A thorough penstock inspection should be performed every five years.

By clicking on "Assess & Address -- A Guide to Targeted Penstock Rehabilitation," you can sign up and learn more about penstocks during a free webcast hosted by FIBRWRAP, airing during the following dates and times:

Dec. 1, at 1 p.m. EST / Noon CST / 10 a.m. PST / 6 p.m. GMT; and

Dec. 3, at 1 p.m. EST / Noon CST / 10 a.m. PST / 6 p.m. GMT.

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