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EAI presents Cleantech Snapshots: a quick summary of some of the most interesting and innovative areas in clean technology that will drive the sustainability movement in future.


This snapshot focuses on Micro hydro power. Within this page you will find


Overview

  • Micro hydro refers to hydroelectric power up to 100 kW. These small scale plants use the natural flow of water instead of a dam, thus resulting in very little ecological damage
  • Micro hydro can be quite beneficial especially to small, isolated communities
  • Many parts of rural India could benefit significantly from a faster development of micro hydro technologies
  • Micro hydro systems complement photovoltaic solar energy systems because hydro power is the highest in the winter when solar energy is minimum
  • It is frequently accomplished with a pelton wheel for high head, low flow water supply

Micro hydro power system

Micro hydro power system(Image source)


 

How it works

  • Seasonal rain and runoff from snow generates the annual hydrologic, or water cycle which produces hydroelectricity
  • Water flows into a powerhouse and turns a turbine
  • Turbine turns a shaft that rotates a series of magnets past copper coils in a generator to create electricity. From powerhouse, transmission lines carry electricity to communities

Basic components

  • Diversion and intake screen – Directs water from the stream or river into the pipe or channel
  • Penstock (pipeline) – Carries the water to the turbine
  • Turbine – Generates electricity (includes nozzles, runner, and generator)
  • Electronics and batteries – Regulates turbine and stores energy
  • Dump load – Absorbs surplus energy
  • Transmission and distribution – Delivers the energy to its end use

Suitable conditions

  • Steep rivers flowing all year round the hill areas of countries with high year-round rainfall, or the great mountain ranges and their foothills, like the Andes and the Himalayas
  • Islands with moist marine climates such as the Caribbean Islands, the Philippines and Indonesia

Advantages

  • Efficient energy storage
  • Reliable electricity source
  • No reservoir required
  • Cost effective energy solution
  • Power for developing countries
  • Can integrate with the local power grid

Cost

  • Cost varies for every case, and it is not possible to figure out the cost expenses without knowing the specifics of the site
  • But approximately it varies from Rs. 1,20,000 to 4,00,000 per installed kW, when using appropriate technologies, which are much cheaper than using conventional approaches

Drawbacks

  • Suitable site characteristics required
  • Energy expansion not possible
  • Low-power in the summer months