Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy in the world, accounting for roughly 16 per cent of the world’s power supply, and capacity is expected to grow. One of the major challenges facing hydropower is reservoir sedimentation, which reduces storage volume, energy output and discharge capacity, while increasing wear and tear on equipment and load on the dam.
There are several methods of sedimentation management, all of which have their limitations. Bottom sluices can be opened to scour away sediments. However, often too little sediment is cleared away. Diesel dredging can be used in shallower reservoirs, but generates significant costs and CO₂ emissions. Another option is to allow the reservoir to fill with sediment, generating less power until it is phased out.
The SediCon Dredge is a gravity-powered hydrosuction sediment-removal system that uses the available water head for pumping out water and sediment. The SediCon Dredge offers high removal capacity and low water consumption. A variety of pumping outlets can be used, either through the dam body, over the dam, or over the spillway crest.
The SediCon Dredge uses an efficient jetting and unrestricted flow system which handles a wide range of sediments, from cohesive clay and organic material to sand and stones. The user has full control of when and where sediments are discharged. There are no limitations with regard to water depth, and designs for depths down to 180 m have been completed so far.
The SediCon Dredge is easy to operate and has low investment and operating costs. Maintenance costs are minimal due to few moving parts.
SediCon has measured the dredge’s operational availability as up to 99 per cent over long periods. Power production can be maintained while the dredge is operating, as the water level and water quality are not affected.
Because gravity is the driving force for the hydrosuction system, the dredge does not utilise diesel fuel. Compared to diesel-powered dredging, the SediCon Dredge reduces carbon emissions to practically zero and prevents diesel from polluting the surrounding water.
Hydropower produced from reservoirs is the only renewable power source that can balance and support new renewables such as wind and solar.
Global power demand is projected to increase by 60 per cent by 2040. Overall hydropower capacity is expected to increase by 125 GW by 2023. Rough estimates indicate that there is 10 000 TWh/year of available unutilised hydropower potential worldwide.