Alstom is establishing the Global Hydro Technology Center in Brazil. The center will be located in Taubaté, where Alstom has its largest factory for hydro products in the world. The facility manufactures electromechanical equipment for all hydro projects in Brazil, but also exports to other countries.
The Global Hydro Technology Center will focus on Kaplan hydroturbines, and will house an R&D team and a testing facility. The R&D activities at the center are to start in early 2012, while the testing facility is expected to enter operation in mid-2013. Specialists from France will work with local specialists during the first years of the center's operation, after which all operations are to be executed purely by the local team of specialists.
According to the company, Brazil will hold 45% of the world's market for Kaplan turbine solutions, and about 80% when considering Asia in the estimate as well.
Just to digress a little, Kaplan turbines are suited for relatively low-head (up to 60 m), high flow rate hydropower projects – usually rivers with a gradual flow path profile, such as the Amazon, or the Danube River in Europe. Kaplan turbines allow power generation regulation through the changes of the flow geometry (rotatable blades), to ensure maximum efficiency in all power generation regimes. These turbines require a smaller water accumulation, and also perform very well in run-of-river scenarios (no reservoirs, turbine fed from available flow). The latter is the most likely case for the future of the hydropower market in Brazil, according to Alstom.