Hatch receives Innovation Award for state-of-the-art hydropower gate design

May 27, 2021

Toronto, Canada - Hatch has received the Ontario Waterpower Association’s (OWA) Innovation Award, which recognizes organizations that have shown leadership in innovation through the development of important advancements that benefit the waterpower industry. Innovations may be technical, operational, or affect any aspect of developing and operating waterpower facilities.

About two decades ago, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) asked Hatch to investigate the possibility of installing powered gates at their dams to reduce the requirements for stoplog manipulations. Although the primary conclusion of the study was that the gates were not economically feasible, it opened a path to a new concept: The Ratchet Gate.

This concept was envisioned to be a gate that could automatically respond to upstream water level changes without the need for any power. It would also fit into an existing stoplog sluice by replacing the top two logs, thereby minimizing the need for extensive rework to the existing structure.

Development of the concept involved mathematical and physical modeling under a research partnership with the University of Waterloo. The result was a design that met all of the objectives as envisioned at the start.

Benefits to the waterpower industry

The Ratchet Gate will provide numerous benefits, including improved safety for operators, reduction in number of visits to the dam for stoplog changeouts, enhanced power generation at flashboard dams, and environmental benefits associated with stable water levels/flows. In addition to the stoplog replacement described above, the Ratchet Gate has other applications, including replacement of flashboards at existing dams to enhance power generation by maintaining the maximum reservoir level while complying with environmental regulations relating to water levels. The gate can also be used for maintaining optimum flows for fish ladders.

There is already keen interest in the gate from many Ontario dam owners, including the MNRF, Ducks Unlimited, Conservation Authorities, Vale, Gemini Power, and others.

The next step is to deploy this innovative gate at one of our clients’ sites to prove the concept and open the door to deployment for dams across North America and around the world.

“We are honored to be the recipient of the OWA Innovation Award. Our mission at Hatch is to develop solutions that are safe, innovative, and sustainable. Innovation is at the core of who we are and within the waterpower industry, we’ve led many industry advancements. We’re thankful to the Ontario Waterpower Association for recognizing our commitment to innovative solutions in the waterpower industry,” said Jerry Westermann, a hydro-mechanical consultant with Hatch.

In the power sector, Hatch is enhancing its focus on all forms of renewables, including solar, wind, and energy storage, and pursuing new applications for Hatch’s microgrid controller technology. Building on the tradition of award-winning hydropower project delivery, our energy team will continue to provide innovative solutions to the world’s hydropower industry.

To view the full list of 2021 OWA award winners, click here.

Want to learn more? Watch this simulation of the Ratchet Gate in operation.