Pelton turbines are one of several hydroelectric turbine designs belonging to the renewable energy sector. Unlike Francis and Kaplan turbines, the Pelton turbine is an impulse type turbine.
Although the Pelton turbine is very efficient, it is not as common as the Kaplan and Francis type turbines. This is because the Pelton turbine requires a very large head of pressure (difference between the upper and lower reservoir) to operate and this restricts its use to certain geographical areas.
A Pelton turbine power station will typically require a head of pressure in excess of several hundred metres to operate efficiently although smaller Pelton wheels could operate successfully with a head as small as 15m. Due to this requirement, the Pelton turbine can only be installed where there is a large and sudden change in elevation. The upper reservoir (usually a dam) will be located at the top of this elevation and the power station at the bottom.
Another disadvantage with the Pelton turbine is that it cannot be used for pump storage operations, whereas the Francis turbine can.
This 3D model shows all major components associated with a typical Pelton turbine, these include:
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