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Sustainable Energy Solutions to Reduce Poverty in South Asia

3.2.2 Micro Hydro Systems

Micro hydropower is an indigenous and renewable source of energy for which the potential exists in almost the whole Hindu-kush Himalayan Region, which includes Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan. Micro Hydro (MH) is generally defined as decentralized small-scale water power plant less than 100 kW. Micro hydro can provide electricity to rural communities which otherwise might take years to be served by national electricity services.


  • The components of MH can be locally manufactured and systems can be locally assembled.
  • The adverse environmental effects are minimal.
  • MH Plants are comparatively easy to manufacture and install indigenously, thus boosting employment, economic activity and the industrial base.
  • The MH systems can be locally managed, operated and main much lower trained with training input to the local people. The organization and management cost are lower than for the other energy systems.

The basic principle of hydropower is that if water can be piped down from a certain level, then the resulting water pressure is converted to work.
If the water pressure is allowed to move a mechanical component then that movement involves the conversion of the potential energy of the water into mechanical energy. Hydro turbines convert water pressure into mechanical shaft power, which can be used to drive an electricity generator, a grinding mill or some other useful device.


Various components of a micro hydro

Civil Components: Structures designed to conduct water from source to the turbine for optimum energy generation. It has several sub-components described below:
Turbines: The turbine converts energy from the falling water into rotating shaft power.

Drive System: Transmits power from the turbine shaft to the generator shaft or the shaft powering other devices. It also has the function of changing the rotational speed from the one shaft to another when the turbine speed differs from the required speed of the alternator or device.

Electrical Systems: Convert mechanical power into electric power. This consists of a generator and alternator.

The functional life of a micro hydro plant is considered to be 15 years. However, a lot depends on how the plant is maintained. Civil structures usually last for a long time, if they do not subject to natural calamities like folds and earthquakes. The life of electro mechanical components depends on the quality of the products installed and on how they are maintained. Regular preventive maintenance generally increases the lifetime of the equipment.

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