Kungsfors – A power station for the future

Outside the small town of Kinna, west of Gothenburg, Sweden, lies Kungsfors, a hydroelectric power station managed by Vattenfall, a Swedish, state-owned, multinational power company. As an important part of Vattenfall’s work towards a more sustainable future, the company has taken its first steps towards a hydraulic oil-free and safer hydropower business, with the help of Ewellix and its leading electromechanically driven solutions that can cope with really tough conditions.
 

Lower cost in manned field operations

What?

Kungsfors is a newly electrified hydroelectric power station owned by Vattenfall in Kinna, west of Gothenburg. With its modern technology and power-generating operations, Kungsfors is unique among Sweden's approximately 2,000 hydroelectric power stations. At Kungsfors, Vattenfall has chosen to invest in electromechanical actuators, instead of hydraulics, for managing the dam's functions. Many of today’s conventional hydroelectric power stations are run manually, in combination with hydraulics, or are run solely by hydraulics.

 
Why?
 
Having hydraulic systems run by hydraulic oil entails the risk that it will leak into the water, where it can have negative effects on both water, wildlife, and vegetation in, and surrounding, rivers. Vattenfall is continuously working to find new and efficient solutions that are environmentally friendly. Kungsfors presented itself as a good opportunity for a switch towards an electromechanical solution. 
Ewellix is ​​one of the few suppliers that can deliver electromechanical actuators of this calibre, with very tough demands when it comes to operational lifetime, safety, and reliability. In hydraulic systems, you often have to pump the oil through a long system of pipes, whilst in electromechanical solutions you can place the engine directly on the cylinder, which makes for a very short distance between the power source and the action required.
 
How?
 
Climate change means that we may have to get used to a lot of extra rainfall during short periods of time over the year, which in turn increases the water levels in our rivers. This means one needs to be able to quickly adjust the water flow in dams to avoid flooding. When the sluice gates are operated automatically, it is possible to remotely control exactly how much water is let through, when, and through which sluice gate. Over time, this creates greater functionality, as each sluice gate is always used in the best way possible, to ensure optimal water levels. The variation also reduces the risk of erosion in the surrounding landscape, both upstream and downstream.
In the Kungsfors case, the previous solution was something of a hybrid solution, consisting of a purely mechanically functioning solution with a smaller rack for opening and closing the dam’s sluice gates.
 

Flexible usage

Being able to operate a hydroelectric power station remotely is an important feature; however, it is equally important that things can be adjusted manually if something goes wrong. For example, during a power outage. Today, it is possible to operate the plant using both methods, and it can be done in a safer, faster, and more reliable way than before.  For Vattenfall, the new solution has also meant fewer working hours for their operators in the field. Before, the company had to have a manual operator at the plant 24 hours a day – during periods of very high levels of water – which is now managed remotely. 

A future proof concept

Climate change is one important factor that is driving the development of electromechanical functions in hydroelectric power stations. Other change accelerators are energy efficiency, better control, and safety. With the push of a button, you can open and close the dam’s sluice gates from wherever you are in the world. Technology simplifies the job and makes it easier to control water flows in places that are difficult to access. In Kungsfors, Vattenfall now operates a more environmentally friendly hydroelectric power station and is all set for the future.

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