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Hydro powers up the contracts

24 April 2008

Sheffield Forgemasters has secured its largest ever order for hydro-power castings to be used on India's Karcham Wangtoo Hydroelectric Project.

The company's involvement in renewable power generation has taken a significant step forward with the order, to supply components for the project's Francis water turbines, on behalf of German company VA TECH Escher Wyss GmbH.

Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering will produce an initial run of six crowns and bands for the turbine runners over 18 months, all cast in 13/4 grade stainless steel and valued at more than £2m, with the potential for two further sets by 2011.

Francis turbines are one of the most effective turbines in use for hydro-powered electricity generation as they force water through a decreasing radius to maximise the energy released, working at more than 90 per cent efficiency.

Volker Schaffer, Sales Director for Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering, said: "VA TECH Escher Wyss is an existing customer of SFIL and the Karcham Wangtoo contract reflects the time and effort that Sheffield Forgemasters has put into this market sector over the past 18 months.

"The Brightside Lane forge has supplied many hydro shafts and components over the years, including projects for the Three Gorges Dam on China's Yangtze River, but renewable power generation is likely to figure quite prominently in future contracts."

The Karcham Wangtoo project, located in the state of Himachal Pradesh, is the largest privately funded hydro-power plant in India and will output 1,000 MW of electricity generated through the Francis turbines.

The castings provided by SFIL will resist corrosion and be manufactured to operate under extreme pressures at the heart of the Karcham Wangtoo power-generation process. 

Graham Honeyman, chief executive at SFIL, said: "Sheffield Forgemasters has been at the forefront of component production for power generation for many years and we have very refined processes for creating critical components such as these. 

"What we are witnessing is a global shortfall in power generation, which many governments, including those of India, China and the UK, are working to address through different forms of energy provision. Hydro-electricity is destined to play a significant part in future strategies."

The crown and band components are critical components in the rotating runners, forming the ends of each runner, with vanes sandwiched between them to create a hydro ‘propeller' which drives the power generator.