Utilizing the Winter-Kennedy method for Hydropower Flow Measurement

Project ID: 20048
Principal Investigator: Josh Mortensen
Research Topic: Improved Power Generation
Funded Fiscal Years: 2020 and 2021
Keywords: None

Research Question

Reliable discharge measurements (volumetric flowrate of water) in hydropower penstocks are important to quantify unit efficiency and account for the amount of water conveyed through the powerplant. There are two general methods of discharge measurement; absolute and relative. Absolute methods are very accurate, accepted by industry standards (ASME code PTC 18) to determine unit efficiency, and typically cost $150k or more per unit . Relative methods, such as Winter-Kennedy, rely upon pressure measurements indexed to a discharge. This method is less accurate, not accepted by industry standards to determine efficiency but is generally more accessible and significantly less expensive (less than $10k per unit) .

The main objective of this research is to determine how Winter-Kennedy discharge measurements can add value to Reclamation hydropower facilities. Most Reclamation hydropower units already have Winter-Kennedy pressure taps for discharge measurement, but often go unused. Many facilities have lost institutional knowledge and don't understand how these taps should be used, what they are for, and in some cases don't even know they exist at their facility. As a result, they often consider absolute methods as their only option which is very expensive, or don't measure discharge at all. While Winter-Kennedy measurements cannot be used to officially determine unit efficiency, they could be more widely applied to monitor unit efficiency, report flow discharges downstream, and identify potential operational issues or maintenance needs at a minimal cost. This research will demonstrate the differences in accuracy and cost of Winter-Kennedy and absolute discharge measurements to help determine appropriate application to Reclamation's hydropower facilities.

Need and Benefit

Winter-Kennedy discharge measurements can potentially provide a significant benefit for Reclamation hydropower plants by providing reliable flow data at a minimal cost.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20