Micro hydro is a type of hydroelectric power that typically produce up to 100 kW of electricity using the natural flow of water. These installations can provide power to an isolated home or small community, or are sometimes connected to electric power networks. There are many of these installations around the world, particularly in developing nations as they can provide an economical source of energy without the purchase of fuel. Micro hydro systems complement photovoltaic solar energy systems because in many areas, water flow, and thus available hydro power, is highest in the winter when solar energy is at a minimum. Micro hydro is frequently accomplished with a pelton wheel for high head, low flow water supply. The installation is often just a small dammed pool, at the top of a waterfall, with several hundred feet of pipe leading to a small generator housing.
Construction details of a microhydro plant are site-specific. Sometimes an existing mill-pond or other artificial reservoir is available and can be adapted for power production. In general, microhydro systems are made up of a number of components. The most important include the intake where water is diverted from the natural stream, river, or perhaps a waterfall. An intake structure such as a catch box is required to screen out floating debris and fish, using a screen or array of bars to keep out large objects. In temperate climates this structure must resist ice as well. The intake may have a gate to allow the system to be dewatered for inspection and maintenance.
The intake then tunnels water through a pipeline (penstock) to the powerhouse building containing a turbine. In mountainous areas, access to the route of the penstock may provide considerable challenges. If the water source and turbine are far apart, the construction of the penstock may be the largest part of the costs of construction. At the turbine, a controlling valve is installed to regulate the flow and the speed of the turbine. The turbine converts the flow and pressure of the water to mechanical energy; the water emerging from the turbine returns to the natural watercourse along a tailrace channel. The turbine turns a generator, which is then connected to electrical loads; this might be directly connected to the power system of a single building in very small installations, or may be connected to a community distribution system for several homes or buildings.
Usually microhydro installations do not have a dam and reservoir, like large hydroelectric plants have, relying on a minimal flow of water to be available year-round.
Head and flow characteristicsEdit
Microhydro systems are typically set up in areas capable of producing up to 100 kilowatts of electricity. This can be enough to power a home or small business facility. This production range is calculated in terms of "head" and "flow". The higher each of these are, the more power available. "Head" is the pressure measurement of falling water expressed as a function of the vertical distance the water falls. This change in elevation is usually measured in feet or meters. A drop of at least 2 feet is required or the system may not be feasible. When quantifying head, both gross and net head must be considered. Gross head approximates power accessibility through the vertical distance measurement alone whereas net head subtracts pressure lost due to friction in piping from the gross head. "Flow" is the actual quantity of water falling from a site and is usually measured in gallons per minute, cubic feet per second, or liters per second.
Regulation and operationEdit
Typically, an automatic controller operates the turbine inlet valve to maintain constant speed (and frequency) when the load changes on the generator. In a system connected to a grid with multiple sources, the turbine control ensures that power always flows out from the generator to the system. The frequency of the alternating current generated needs to match the local standard utility frequency. In some systems, if the useful load on the generator is not high enough, a load bank may be automatically connected to the generator to dissipate energy not required by the load; while this wastes energy, it may be required if it's not possible to stop the water flow through the turbine.
An induction generator always operates at the grid frequency irrespective of its rotation speed; all that is necessary is to ensure that it is driven by the turbine faster than the synchronous speed so that it generates power rather than consuming it. Other types of generator require a speed control systems for frequency matching.
With the availability of modern power electronics it is often easier to operate the generator at an arbitrary frequency and feed its output through an inverter which produces output at grid frequency. Power electronics now allow the use of permanent magnet alternators that produce wild AC to be stabilised. This approach allows low speed / low head water turbines to be competitive; they can run at the best speed for extraction of energy, and the power frequency is controlled by the electronics instead of the generator.
Very small installations, a few kilowatts or smaller, may generate direct current and charge batteries for peak use times.
Several different types of water turbines can be used in micro hydro installations, selection depending on the head of water, the volume of flow, and such factors as availability of local maintenance and transport of equipment to the site. For mountainous regions where a waterfall of 50 meters or more may be available, a Pelton wheel can be used. For low head installations, Francis or propeller-type turbines are used. Very low head installations of only a few meters may use propeller-type turbines in a pit. The very smallest micro hydro installations may successfully use industrial centrifugal pumps, run in reverse as prime movers; while the efficiency may not be as high as a purpose-built runner, the relatively low cost makes the projects economically feasible.
In low-head installations, maintenance and mechanism costs often become important. A low-head system moves larger amounts of water, and is more likely to encounter surface debris. For this reason a Banki turbine also called Ossberger turbine, a pressurized self-cleaning crossflow waterwheel, is often preferred for low-head microhydropower systems. Though less efficient, its simpler structure is less expensive than other low-head turbines of the same capacity. Since the water flows in, then out of it, it cleans itself and is less prone to jam with debris.
- Reverse Archimedes' screw : two low-head schemes in England, Settle Hydro and Torrs Hydro use a Archimedes' screw which is another debris-tolerant design. Efficiency 85%.
- Gorlov: the Gorlov helical turbine free stream or constrained flow with or without a dam,
- Francis and propeller turbines.
- Kaplan turbine : an alternative to the traditional kaplan turbine is a large diameter, slow turning, permanent magnet, sloped open flow VLH turbine with efficiencies of 90%.
- Water wheel : advanced hydraulic water wheels and hydraulic wheel-part reaction turbine can have hydraulic efficiencies of 67% and 85% respectively.
- Gravitation water vortex power plant : part of the river flow at a weir or natural water fall is diverted into a round basin with a central bottom exit that creates a vortex. A simple rotor (and connected generator) is moved by the kinetic energy. Efficiencies of 83% down to 64% at 1/3 part flow.
Microhydro systems are very flexible and can be deployed in a number of different environments. They are dependent on water flow from the source (creek, river, stream) as well as the flow's velocity. Energy can be stored in battery banks at sites that are far from a facility or used in addition to a system that is directly connected so that in times of high demand there is additional reserve energy available. These systems can be designed to minimize potential damage regularly caused by large dams or other mass hydroelectric generation sites.
Potential for rural developmentEdit
In relation to rural development, the simplicity and low relative cost of microhydro systems open up new opportunities for some isolated communities in need of electricity. With only a small stream needed, remote areas can access lighting and communications for homes, medical clinics, schools, and other facilities. Microhydro can even run a certain level of machinery supporting small businesses. Regions along the Andes mountains and in Sri Lanka and China already have similar, active programs. One seemingly unexpected use of such systems in some areas is to keep young community members from moving into more urban regions in order to spur economic growth. Also, as the possibility of financial incentives for less carbon intensive processes grows, the future of microhydro systems may become more appealing.
Advantages and disadvantages Edit
Microhydro power is generated through a process that utilizes the natural flow of water. This power is most commonly converted into electricity. With no direct emissions resulting from this conversion process, there are little to no harmful effects on the environment, if planned well, thus supplying power from a renewable source and in a sustainable manner. Microhydro is considered a "run-of-river" system meaning that water diverted from the stream or river is redirected back into the same watercourse. Adding to the potential economic benefits of microhydro is efficiency, reliability, and cost effectiveness.
Microhydro systems are limited mainly by characteristics of the site. The most direct limitation comes from small sources with minuscule flow. Likewise, flow can fluctuate seasonally in some areas. Lastly, though perhaps the foremost disadvantage is the distance from the power source to the site in need of energy. This distributional issue as well as the others are key when considering using a microhydro system.
See also Edit
- Gravitation water vortex power plant
- Pico hydro
- Renewable energy
- Run-of-the-river hydroelectricity
- Self sufficiency
- Small hydro
- ↑ Micro Hydro in the fight against poverty
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 How a Microhydro System Works. U.S. DOE. Retrieved on 28 November 2010.
- ↑ 1.5-2 inch Catch Box. BMH. Retrieved on 29 October 2012.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Microhydropower Systems. U.S. DOE. Retrieved on 28 November 2010.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Micro Hydroelectric Systems. Oregon DOE. Retrieved on 1 December 2010.
- ↑ Determining a Potential Microhydropower Site's Flow. U.S. DOE. Retrieved on 28 November 2010.
- ↑ Gorlov A.M., Development of the helical reaction hydraulic turbine. Final Technical Report, The US Department of Energy, August 1998, The Department of Energy's (DOE) Information Bridge: DOE Scientific and Technical Information.
- ↑ Ashden Awards. Micro-hydro. Retrieved on 2009-06-29.
- ↑ http://www.vlh-turbine.com/EN/html/History.htm
- ↑ Microhydro. Research Institute for Sustainable Energy. Retrieved on 9 December 2010.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Micro-hydro. The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy. Retrieved on 20 November 2010.
- ↑ Microhydropower. U.S. DOE. Retrieved on 20 November 2010.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Micro Hydro Power - Pros and Cons. Alternative Energy News Network. Retrieved on 24 November 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Micro-hydroelectric power plants|
- Portal on microhydro power
- SMART - Strategies to proMote small scAle hydro electRicity producTion in Europe (project financed by the European Commission, involves Italy, Croatia, Norway, Greece and Austria)
- Micro Hydro information, Dorado Vista ranch application
- European Small Hydropower Association
- Micro Hydro Association UK
- Hydropower Prospector, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
- Checklist on Small Hydropower, Mini Hydraulics Laboratory (Switzerland), European Small Hydropower Association
- Ashden Awards hydro power winners
- Example of a new Scottish Highland micro hydro system
- Home built micro hydro project
Book swapping • Distilled water • Library • Metal recycling • Paper recycling • Plastic recycling • Sleep mode • Water treatment • Water use • K-Cup recycling • Ceramic water filter • Reusable plastic container • Chloramine • Pur • Biodiesel recycling • Cold showers • Propane recycling •
Aircraft recycling • Appliance recycling • Bag recycling • Bambooee • Battery recycling • Beach • Bicycle • Books • Bottle recycling • Carbon Dioxide recycling • Carpet recycling • Carpool • CD recycling • Cell Phone recycling • Cloth napkin • Clothing swap • Coal recycling • Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) • Computer recycling • Concrete recycling • Cork recycling • Cotton recycling • Cup recycling • Downcycling • Energy recycling • Environmental impact of shipping • Freecycling • Furniture recycling • Gasoline recycling • Glass recycling • Green Computing • Green your marketing practices • Greenhouse gas recycling • Grills • How to recycle • Ice • Irrigation • Lake • Light Bulb recycling • Low flush toilet • Marine pollution • Mercury recycling • Napkin recycling • Ocean • Oil filter recycling • Oil recycling • Organic gardening • Paint recycling • Plant a tree • Plate recycling • Power strip • Precycling • Printer Cartridge recycling • Programmable Thermostat • Rain Barrel • Rain • Rainwater Hog • Rechargable battery • Rechargable light bulb • Reclaimed water • Recycling and Donating Old Electronics • Reducing Junk Mail • Reusable Bags • Reusable Bottles • Reusable Cups • Reusable Plates • Reusable toothpick • Reusable Utensils • Reusable Wrapping Paper • Reusables • River • Rubber recycling • Sea • Ship breaking • Single-stream recycling • Sprinkler • Sulfur Dioxide recycling • Sulfur recycling • Swag Swap • Swap • System • Telecommuting • Textile recycling • Tidal Energy • Transportation recycling • Unplug for Climate Change • Upcycling • Utensil recycling • Vehicle recycling • Waste-free lunch • Water industry • Water saving shower • Wood recycling • Working from home • Refrigerant reclamation • Lint roller recycling •
7 Ways that Bicycling Can Save the Environment • Aluminium dross recycling • Arbor Day • Automatic faucet • Bicycle recycling • Black Water • Buying local • Carbon recycling • Clean Water Campaign • Cloth Diaper • Cold wash • Commingled recycling • Compost • De Rigeur Reusable Water Bottles • Dehumidifier • Diaper recycling • Double Your Gas Mileage.. With Water? • Drinking water • Drought • Dual flush toilet • Duplex printing • E-Cycling • E-Swap • EcoARK • Waste water • Green Banking • Ecotourism • Electronic billing • Electronic receipt • Electronic ticket • Email • Fish • Fossil water • Front of Store recycling • Full depth recycling • Giant Eagle • Grass • Grasscycling • Green Festivals • Green Grocery Shopping Tips • Green Office • Green Your Pet Care- Pet Food • Greener Patios • GreenerPool • Greywater • Groundwater • Hand dryer • How to be green • How to Conserve Water in a Toilet Tank • How to Go Green: In the Bathroom • How to Go Green: In the Kitchen • How to make Your House more Energy efficient • How to Plan a Waste-Free BBQ • How To Recycle Old Plastic Bags • How to Save Energy in the Laundry Room • How to Take a Navy Shower • Hydroelectricity • Hydropower • Incineration • Laundry Dropps • Lead recycling • Leak • Limestone recycling • Low flow shower head • Making Bathtime Healthy • Medicine recycling • Micro hydro • Mitch's Green Flush • Mobile couponing • Monitoring Water Quality • Municipal solid waste • Close the loop • Natural gas recycling • Organic cotton • Planet Aid • Plastic lumber • Plastiki • Pollution Prevention • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) • Pre-consumer recycling • Reclaimed metal • Recursive recycling • Recycled Materials for Your Home • Recycling centers • Reduce Your Carbon Footprint - Recycle Paper! • Refillable pen • Remanufacturing • Retention Basins • Straw recycling • Solar Hot Water Panel • Sneakers with a Purpose • Snow • Solar panel • Solar Power • Solar water heating • Steam • Sub-irrigated planter • Surface water • Sustainable fashion • Swimming pool • Television recycling • Thermal pollution • Toothpick recycling • Top 10 Greenie Newbie Lifestyle Basics • Transportation swap • Treecycling • Trick tank • UN World Day for Water • US Bottled Water consumption • Waste handling facilities • Water conflict • Water cycle • Water fluoridation • Water heat recycling • Water quality • Water scarcity • Water table • Water vapor • WHAT IS NYOGLECC • Where's My Water? • Wind Turbine (floating, airborne) • Reusable straw • Writing implement recycling •
American Rivers • Artificial turf • Ball valve • Biomass recycling • Bulk purchasing • Chlorine recycling • Current sea level rise • Direct deposit • E-book • Energy audit • Energy Star • Environmental impact of irrigation • Environmental impact of reservoirs • Ethanol recycling • Gary Harvey: Couture Fashion with a Conscience • Geothermal heat pump • Green Business • Green solutions • Hybrid cars • Hydrogen recycling • Hydrosphere • LED Lamp • LI Groundwater • Long Island Surface Water • Marine conservation • Marine debris • Navy shower • Nutrient cycle • Nylon recycling • Online book • PETCO • Photovoltaic system • Public transport • Push Mower • Rain sensor • Rubber mulch • Shell Oil Company • Solar desalination • Solar Energy • Solar pond • Solar powered desalination unit • Solar powered fountain • Solar still • Stairs • Sweater • The Ocean Conservancy • Tsunami • Vegetarianism • Victory for the Lloyd Aquifer! • Virtual water • Walking • Water filter • Water Jelly Crystal • Water law • Water purification • Water resource management • Water-fuelled car • Wave farm • Wave power • Caulking • Weatherstripping • Wetland • Wetland conservation • Why buy recycled and other environmentally friendly products • Why recycle • Windpump • Fire Extinguisher recycling •
Brine • Groasis Waterboxx • Kerbside collection • Shade-grown coffee • Thorium recycling • Reusable lint roller • Uranium recycling • Portable water purification • Bottled water • Diesel fuel recycling • Paperless office • Moisture recycling • Aquarium • Water gas • Scandium recycling •