Hydroelectric Power Plant Production Manager

Hydroelectric power is generated by harnessing the energy of the water in dams or waterfalls, using hydraulic turbines to create electricity. Hydroelectric power is considered to be a clean, renewable source of energy, releasing a very low level of greenhouse gases when compared to fossil fuels. Costing far less to produce and operate than fossil fuel, it is a growing sector of the renewable energy industry.

Careers in the hydroelectric industry:

As with many of the other renewable energy technologies, the design, construction and maintenance of hydropower plants require electrical and mechanical engineers, technicians and skilled workers. If the hydropower project involves managing the reservoir and the surrounding land, the developer will also hire recreation planners and resource managers. In addition, laws now require current or prospective hydropower plant developers to assess the environmental effects of their operation. Thus, the hydropower industry will also employ environmental scientists (biologists, hydrologists, ecologists and wildlife habitat specialists, for example) to assess the environmental impact and to take into account and to address these issues.

The production of hydroelectric power involves a team of plant operators under the hydroelectric production manager who is responsible for managing the resources dedicated to the operation of power generating facilities. The objective of the team is to produce the maximum amount of electricity in the least possible time with minimum of breakdowns and other problems whilst also complying with all relevant safety procedures.

Some of the tasks of the production manager are to:

  • supervise and manage the operations and maintenance of the hydroelectric power facilities
  • supervise the people in charge of handling the various sections of the plant
  • monitor operations to ensure that generation conforms to applicable operational and safety regulations and standards
  • develop, review and implement operating budgets, annual plans, power contracts, power rates, standing operating procedures or engineering studies
  • communicate power system emergencies in accordance with approved procedures
  • maintain records of hydroelectric facility operations, maintenance and repairs
  • inspect hydroelectric equipment such as generators, hydro-turbines and control systems to ensure their optimum condition.
In South Africa there are many hydroelectric plant site possibilities. The main areas would be in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal regions. Many of these plants would be under 100 megawatt, but all of these together would ensure a greater sustainable future for South Africa. There is already a 1000 megawatt Pumped-Storage Facility in the Drakensberg but there are still many opportunities for additional smaller plants. Hydro power generation works well in mountainous countries as the water can be stored at very high pressures.

Since electricity is a diminishing resource, there is an urgency to produce it using renewable sources of energy. Therefore electricity generated by means of wind, water, sun, etc. are fields of technology where a lot of innovation is expected to emerge in the future.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

What to Study

Degree: BEng Electrical / Mechanical Engineering - most universities, e.g. Wits, UCT, UP etc

Diploma: Universities of technology, e.g. CPUT, DUT.
Candidates need to have all the relevant technical and managerial skills to carry out their responsibilities.


Hydroelectric power stations

Further Information

Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA)
P O Box 868
Ferndale, 2160
Tel: (011) 789-1384 Fax: (011) 789-1385

Getting Started

  • speak to hydroelectric plant workers about this career and ask if you can observe them at work
  • do your own research on this topic

Programmes by Study Institutions

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