En+ Group installing new impeller at 4.5-GW Bratsk hydro plant in Russia

Hydro Review

En+ Group, a producer of low-carbon aluminum and independent hydropower, has begun installing a new impeller at one of its hydraulic units at the 4.5-GW Bratsk Hydropower Station as part of its New Energy program.

The Bratsk plant, on the Angara River in Russia, contains 18 hydro-turbine impellers, which have been undergoing a three-stage modernization program. In the first stage, from 2004 to 2010, units 13 through 18 were rebuilt. Replacing these impellers improved the turbines’ energy conversion efficiency to 95.3%. The project boosted the hydropower station’s electric output, consequently reducing coal plant output and therefore reducing CO2 emissions. This project’s success resulted in En+ Group being commended for its work at the first Kyoto Protocol project competition in 2010.

From 2014 to 2017, six further impellers were replaced in units 6 through 10 and 12. All 12 impellers installed during the first two phases of the modernization program have demonstrated their capacity for boosting efficiency, and their modernization has led to increased electric power production without increasing water consumption.

The remaining six impellers will be replaced within the third stage, which began in 2021, and will cost RUB1.5 billion (US$20.4 million).

Russian machinery suppliers were given priority in the procurement process. Tyazhmash JSC was selected to supply the impellers as well as additional equipment. All necessary equipment has already arrived at the plant and is ready for installation. Work on the impellers is expected to continue until the end of the year, and the hydro turbine is planned for launch in late December 2021.

“Modernizing hydroelectric stations is important not only for a secure and uninterrupted energy supply, but all also to boost the station’s efficiency,” said Mikhail Khardikov, head of En+ Group’s energy business. “As we continue with the implementation of the New Energy program, we will achieve the best long-term efficiency metrics in the industry. The New Energy Program also has a positive ecological impact: as of 2022, the hydropower station will be generating an additional 2 billion kWh of energy from the same volume of water”.

The New Energy program is being implemented at En+ Group’s Angara-Yenisei cascade hydropower projects (Ust-Ilimsk, Bratsk, Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk). Upgraded equipment at the stations increased capacity by 1,712.1 kWh in 2020 year-on-year, reducing emissions by 1.984 million tonnes in CO2 equivalent as hydroelectric power replaced the capacity previously generated by coal-fired power plants. Investment in the New Energy program will amount to RUB21 billion (US$285.7 million) by 2026. In present-day prices, additional investment in the program can amount to around RUB34 billion (US$462.6 million) by 2046.

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