List of hydroelectric power station failures

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This is a list of major hydroelectric power station failures due to damage to a hydroelectric power station or its connections. Every generating station trips from time to time due to minor defects and can usually be restarted when the defect has been remedied. Various protections are built into the stations to cause shutdown before major damage is caused. Some hydroelectric power station failures may go beyond the immediate loss of generation capacity, including destruction of the turbine itself, reservoir breach and significant destruction of national grid infrastructure downstream. These can take years to remedy in some cases.

Where a generating station is large compared to the connected grid capacity, any failure can cause extensive disruption with in the network. A serious failure in a proportionally large hydroelectric generating station or its associated transmission line will remove a large block of power from the grid that may lead to widespread disturbances.

List of failures[edit]

Plant Location Description Year Reference
Möhne Reservoir Ruhr Destroyed during WWII by RAF Lancaster bombers during Operation Chastise. 5.1 MW capacity lost for about six weeks. 1943
Edersee Dam Waldeck-Frankenberg Destroyed during WWII by RAF Lancaster bombers during Operation Chastise. 16 MWe of generation lost. 1943
Schoellkopf Power Station Niagara Falls, NY Destruction of the plant as it fell from the gorge wall and collapsed into the river, caused by water seeping into the back wall of the power station. One worker was killed and damage was estimated at US$100 million (or $922 million today, adjusted for inflation). 1956 [2]
Vajont Dam Italy Overtopping due to landslide caused by instability of the rock around, with the evidence of the instability suppressed by the Government. 1,917 deaths 1963
Mangla Dam Kashmir, Pakistan The power house was damaged due to an Indian Air Force raid during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The 1000 MW hydro project was temporarily out of service. 1971 [3]
Banqiao Dam China 26,000 dead from flooding, 145,000 dead from subsequent famine and epidemics, 11 million homeless. Caused loss of generation, dam failed by overtopping in a 1-in-2,000 year flood[4] 1975
Teton Dam Idaho, US The dam foundations washed away and a wave swept aside everything in its path, including two towns, killing at least eleven people, and thousands of cattle.[5] 1976
Machchhu Dam Machchhu, India The Machhu Dam-II collapsed, leading to the deluge of the city of Morbi and the surrounding rural areas. 1800–25,000 people were killed.[6][7] 1979
Lawn Lake Dam Colorado, US Failed in fair weather due to a combination of poor construction, age, and neglect. Caused downstream failure of the Cascade Dam. Destroyed historical Stanley hydro power station and a fish hatchery. Flooded a campground and the town of Estes Park impacting 75% of business activity. $31 million in damages and three lives lost. Three similar dams in the region were subsequently demolished. 1982 [8]
Srisailam Dam India Due to poor reservoir operation, flood water overflowed into the semi underground power house (770 MW) from the point where a protection wall was to be constructed before power house commissioning in 1987. Flood water deluge caused the complete submergence of power house, massive debris accumulation, electrical equipment replacement and loss of power generation for a year 1998 [9]
Bieudron Hydroelectric Power Station Switzerland 1269 MW loss, penstock rupture, three fatalities, flooding and loss of generating capacity 2000 [10]
Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Power Station Missouri, US Due to its being designed without a spillway and continuing to operate when management knew the gauging system was faulty, the upper reservoir was overtopped when water continued to be pumped from the lower reservoir after the upper was already full. A large section of the upper reservoir failed, draining over a billion gallons of water (4 million m³) in less than half an hour. There were no fatalities, but five people were injured. The failure resulted in permanent damage to the surrounding landscape and power generation did not resume until 2010. 2005 [11][12][13]
Itaipu Dam Brazil 18 GW power generation loss due to storm damage of transmission lines. 2009 see also: 2009 Brazil and Paraguay blackout
Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam Russia 2009 Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro accident, 6 GW power generation loss, 75 fatalities, due to turbine failure 2009 [14]
Srisailam Dam India On 2 October 2009, an earth dam burst above the Srisailam reservoir creating a record inflow which threatened the dam 2009 [15]
Vishnuprayag hydro electric station (400 MW) India Flash floods resulted in accumulation of huge quantity of muck and debris in the dam reservoir 2013 [16]
Dhauliganga hydro electric station (280 MW) India Unprecedented flash floods in June, 2013 in the State of Uttarakhand causing the complete submergence of power house. Massive debris accumulation, electrical equipment replacement and loss of total generation capacity for more than six months. 2013 [17]
Uri-II Power Station (240 MW) India A large fire incident happened in one of the transformers of the power station. 2014
Oroville Dam California, US Damaged spillway caused evacuation of 180,000 2017

Not listed here but need to be added:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Historical Review: Bombings of Dams" (PDF). Bulletin. Canadian Dam Association. Winter 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2011.
  2. ^ Schoellcopf collapse
  3. ^ "Hunter". Global Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Easwaran, S.B. "The Loudest Crash Of '79". Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  7. ^ Bhadur, Amita. "Machhu dam disaster of 1979 in Gujarat – Discussion on a book by Tom Wooten and Utpal Sandesara". Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  8. ^ "The Lawn Lake Flood". Town of Estes Park. Archived from the original on December 9, 2011.
  9. ^ "Power house at Srisailam submerged". Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Cleuson-Dixence Rehab Nears End". Tunnel Builder. August 9, 2008. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Taum Sauk Reservoir fails". Archived from the original on 2006-12-18.
  12. ^ Missouri University of Science & Technology: The 2005 Upper Taum Sauk Dam Failure:A Case History
  13. ^ Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Staff Report
  14. ^ Ilya Naymushin (2009-08-17). "Russian dam disaster kills 10, scores missing". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
  15. ^ Managing historic flood in the Krishna river basin in the year 2009
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Curtain Raiser on the events at NHPC's 280 MW Dhauliganga HEP" (PDF). Retrieved 1 November 2013.