Roadmap for Hydropower Plant Upgrade and Modernization

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Roadmap for Hydropower Plant Upgrade and Modernization


June 14, 2021


Alice Stage, Manager, Marketing and Strategic Segments, Eaton Corporation


Roadmap for Hydropower Plant Upgrade and Modernization

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The discussion on hydroelectric plant rehabilitation and modernization has been increasing due, in large part, of its inclusion in the Biden Administration’s $63 billion infrastructure proposal to advance the use of hydropower as a clean energy source.

The average hydroelectric facility has been operating for over 65 years and contains a mismatch of hardware and controls that may not be optimized to work as a unified system. Available technology has also changed to bring increased safety, reliability and efficiency to the hydroelectric plant—plus this new technology requires an increased focused on cybersecurity, ensuring protection of critical assets and infrastructure.

Determining where to start and what needs to be done to modernize your facility may feel like a daunting task. So where do you begin: online, with an experienced colleague, or with a trusted partner?  Regardless of where you go for the information, you will always need to ask questions.


  • What requirements and regulations should be considered when updating hydro facilities?
  • What power systems studies should be completed in a hydro modernization project scope of work?
  • What are the arc flash safety considerations for a hydro plant upgrade project?
  • What should be considered when selecting equipment for a hydro plant upgrade project?

You can find the answers to these and more in Eaton’s Hydropower plant upgrade and automation fundamentals . This compilation of frequently asked questions is based on decades of experience in the hydro industry. Our engineering and project management experts have outlined a step-by-step educational guide that includes key considerations when identifying project objectives, scoping your project appropriately, regulation requirements to consider, and safety needs as a driving force. The fundamentals page also addresses the latest trends in cybersecurity, digitalization and automation. The result is a roadmap to meeting your project objectives in a question and answer format.


Outlining your modernization project does not need be a complicated process. Leverage these eight simple rules to set your project on the right path:

  1. Assess your current state, including equipment evaluation, requirements, regulations safety needs and execution resources.
  2. Establish priorities by setting a budget and schedule between current and future projects.
  3. Determine your project requirements, to include major equipment, design, integration, project management, labor and materials, and commissioning.
  4. Leverage internal and external resources for industry knowledge, technology solutions and project management expertise.
  5. Research available technologies, solutions, integrators and equipment suppliers.
  6. Develop system specifications to define your equipment functional needs.
  7. Examine modernization approaches to determine what type of project and priorities fit your objectives.
  8. Expect the unexpected and leverage your internal and external resources to mitigate the unknown.


Maybe you have completed your research and asked the right questions but are still unsure the priority of specific scopes of work and how much it will cost. Both need to be defined to start your project authorization process. The next step is to call in the industry expert.

Eaton offers site assessments at no cost that provide options to meet your electrical infrastructure modernization needs, from safety and regulation concerns to site optimization and reliability. The result is an outline of project considerations and cost.


When upgrading your hydropower plant, you need a provider with broad capabilities, a proven track record and the expertise to not only oversee the entire process but resolve any unforeseen hurdles along the way. With Eaton as your trusted advisor, modernizing your hydroelectric facility has never been easier.

By leveraging Eaton’s hydro services team, the normal stressors of a plant upgrade process become water under the bridge. Our expertise and turnkey value minimize disruptions to operations, while task administration is streamlined by working with a single source.

Visit to learn more.