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Idaho National Laboratory

Types of Hydropower Facilities

Impoundment Hydropower- uses a dam to store water. Water may be released either to meet changing electricity needs or to maintain a constant water level. (See below)

Picture of Impoundment Hydropower

Run-of-River Projects - utilize the flow of water within the natural range of the river, requiring little or no impoundment. Run-of-river plants can be designed using large flow rates with low head or small flow rates with high head. In the following photo, the run-of-river structure at Idaho Falls, Idaho is visible behind the foliage. It features a large flow rate with a low head (low height of diversion structure).

Picture of Run-of-River Projects

Microhydropower Projects - produce 100 kilowatts (kW) or less. Microhydro plants can utilize low heads or high heads.

Picture of Microhydropower Projects

Diversion Hydropower - channels a portion of the river through a canal or penstock, but may require a dam. The project below, the Tazimina project in Alaska, did not require a dam.

Picture of Tazimina project

Pumped storage (no picture) - pumps water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir at times when demand for electricity is low. During periods of high electrical demand, the water is released back to the lower reservoir to generate electricity.

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