SRP to work with ASU to assess condition of watershed through use of lidar

Nov 22, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: 9:49 am

PHOENIX — Salt River Project is partnering with Arizona State University on a project to evaluate the condition of hydropower assets on SRP’s watershed.

SRP manager of hydroengineering Russell Genet said the project uses lidar laser technology to look at high-definition images. The light detection and ranging, or lidar, technology uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges to Earth. Engineers can then see wear and tear on hydropower turbines at Horse Mesa and Mormon Flat dams.

That allows SRP to assess the lifecycle of the asset or determine when maintenance is needed. Genet said the turbines are old and difficult to inspect. They’ve been in use since the 1970’s and weigh upwards of 40 tons. Genet said it also allows SRP to more efficiently track the data and more easily share the information with vendors or engineers who are remote.

Genet said SRP is looking to expand its hydropower generation. They’re evaluating two potential sites for a new pump storage hydropower facility. This would allow them to store hydropower like a battery and use it as needed.

The Salt River pump storage project would allow SRP to generate up to 2,000 megawatts, which Genet said is enough to power over 400,000 homes for ten hours. However, it won’t be in service for 10 years.

Hydroelectricity accounts for roughly 5% of Arizona’s power generation and is one of the cleanest sources of energy.

SRP currently operates seven hydropower sites across the state: Arizona Falls, Crosscut Hydroelectric Plant, Horse Mesa Dam, Mormon Flat Dam, Roosevelt Dam, South Consolidated Hydroelectric Unit and Steward Mountain Dam. SRP can produce over 250 megawatts of carbon free energy powering more than 60,000 homes.

Student researchers studying at ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment are conducting the SRP grant funded study. SRP currently has 24 projects with ASU and two of them are specific to hydropower, including this one and another one using Digital Twin technology to conduct detailed modeling of hydropower assets.

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SRP to work with ASU to assess condition of watershed through use of lidar