Stable dams

Advanced solutions for sustainable assessment of existing gravity dams

Project summary

In the context of a highly industrialized world and continues population growth the demands of energy are increasing. The hydropower industry provide electricity, a source of energy regarded as clean and renewable compared to the fossil energy.

Norway is one of the leading countries in producing electricity, hydropower today represents 99 percent of all power generation in Norway. In comparison, hydropower only contributes about one sixth of the total electricity production in the world.

The construction of hydropower plants in Norway took place in the large hydropower era stretching from 1945 to 1975.

About 6000 dams of various shapes are in operation today in Norway, thus they constitute a central part of most power plants in Norway.  About 10% of those made of concrete are higher than 15 m, while the rest are lower, “small” dams. Stable Dams deals with the latter.

These structures are ageing; many of them are reaching their design life time, typically of about 50 years. This challenge raises concerns about their condition which can consequently affect their performance. The safety of the existing dams is a high priority for Norwegian society, governmental institutions and their owners due to the severe consequences of failures.

Thus, their safety is evaluated according to certain regulations. The procedures used for these verifications are rather simple and do not always reflect the reality on the field, yielding to high costs of rehabilitation. Hence they need to be updated to reflect advances in technology.

Fortunately, numerous advanced tools and technologies have been developed during the years and could potentially help to elucidate and predict dams’ behaviour much more robustly than previously possible. However, the tools must be rigorously tested and calibrated before further use in dam engineering. This is the goal of this project.

A project supported by the Research Council of Norway (Forskningsrådet).

Aim and objectives

Enhance fundamental knowledge of dams’ behaviour

Propose new assessment steps for verifying the stability of small concrete dams

Identify and test methods and equipment for destructive and, more importantly, non-destructive testing (NDT) of materials and assessing dams’ condition