Power can be generated from water in different forms by different types of machines and installing plants. Some of the arrangements can produce small amount of power like micro hydro or tidal power plants, whereas the other systems like dams can produce large amount of power.Following are the various forms and types of hydropower:
Hydro power plants: The hydro power plants or dams are used to generate electricity on large scale basis. Three Gorges project in China on Yang-Yang River is the largest power station in the world having installed capacity of around 22,500 MW. In case of Dams, potential energy of water is utilized to generate electricity. Water is made to fall with a high force.
The force of the water being released through the dam falls on the blades of turbine, which generate electricity. Power lines are linked to the generator which carries electricity to the homes or factories. The dams are built across the large river which has plenty of water. In case the river is big, more than one dam can also be constructed across the river but at different locations.
Wave energy from oceans: Ocean wave energy is the form of kinetic energy which exists in the moving waves of the ocean. These waves can be utilized to rotate the turbines and generate electricity.
Tidal energy: The principal behind the generation of electricity from tidal energy is similar to that used in hydroelectric power plants. When tides move toward the shore, they can be trapped in reservoirs and hence can be used to generate electricity.
Water wheels: The water wheels are not used to produce electricity whereas theyare straightforwardly used to run the machines and small power mills. Micro hydro power: The kinetic energy within the rivers and streams and potential energy from falling water can be used to produce electricity even without installing the huge setup of the dams. One can use this energy source by building a basic micro hydroelectric power plant. Different classifications of Hydroelectric power plants depending upon Capacity to generate power:
- Micro-hydropower system: up to 100 KW
- Mini-hydro: 100KW to 2 MW
- Small-hydro: 2 MW to 25 MW
- Megahydro: Hydro projects with installed capacity >= 500 MW
Micro hydro for your homes Micro hydroelectricity systems can generate enough electricity for lighting and electrical appliances in an average home. If you have a steady year-round source of running water near your cabin or home, water turbine generators can provide the most constant and reliable alternative power source. It no doubt requires careful design to produce the best performance, but micro hydro system is not complicated. The micro hydro system is very easy to operate and maintain. Above all Micro hydro power is very cost effective and it has a long lifespan. Components of Micro-hydro systems
- Water turbine: Water turbine converts the energy of water into mechanical energy that drives a generator and hence generates electrical power
- Intake: Intake is used to divert stream flow from the water course
- Canal: It is a pipeline to take the water flow to the forebay tank from the intake
- Forebay Tank: A forebay tank usually has a rack of metal bars to filter debris and prevent it from being drawn into the turbine
- A penstock pipe to transmit the water to the powerhouse
- A powerhouse, in which the turbine and generator convert the power of the water into electricity
- Electrical transmission lines to deliver the power to its destination
- A tailrace which takes the water back to the river or stream
Micro hydro system for your home — what you need to know before starting
- To identify the potential for hydropower at the site to make the system viable:
To judge the viability of a potential site, the hydrology of the site needs to be surveyed. Hydrological information can be acquired from the meteorology or irrigation department.
- To consult the owners of the land including any land needed to develop and access it.
- Environmental impact and approvals: Before investing time and money in a hydropower system, check out if any regulatory issues are required to be resolved. Contact your territorial government officials who deal with land and water so as to determine what local permits are needed for your area.
- Your requirements for energy and power: To determine if your requirements of power can be satisfied or not, you can calculate the hydro potential of water flowing from the river or stream. P= Q x H x g
- Where P is the power output in kW
- Q is the usable flow rate which is the quantity of water flowing past a point at a given time and is measured in m3/s.
- H is the Gross head which is the vertical height from the level where the water enters the penstock or the intake pipe to the level where the water leaves the turbine housing.
- g = Gravitational constant (9.8 m/s2)
- Cost involved and economics
- Consult an expert: As micro-hydropower system is complex system which requires technical design. You should consult an energy expert to design and optimize an appropriate system for your site. The sizing of the turbines and penstock and selecting the type of generator are quite technical and Microhydropower System’s cost, approvals, layout and other factors are site-specific and unique in each case. Therefore professional guidance is crucial to have a grasp of the potential energy benefits as well as the limitations of hydro technology. With the proper guidance, right research and expertise, micro hydro can prove to be a superb method of harnessing renewable energy from small streams.
- Safety Measures: To avoid injuries, follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and precautions when handling any particular equipment. Prefer to do it under expert’s guidance and be carefully following all the regulations.
Benefits of MicroHydroelectric power plants
There can be several benefits of building a micro-hydropower system. You can simply opt it to fulfill your basic needs to produce electricity for lighting, electronic devices, computers, hot water, space heating or cooking. Following are the benefits of investing in MicroHydroelectric power plants:
Renewable fuel source: Hydroelectric power plants use water to generate electricity which is renewable and is inexhaustible. Clean source of energy: As a hydroelectric power plant generates electricity without burning any fuel, therefore no pollution is created. Hydroelectric power plant does not release any harmful gases or particulate matter as in case of fossil fuels, consequently keeps the atmosphere clean and healthy for living.
Inflation proof Power: Unlike fossil fuels Hydropower is inflation-proof as the cost of using the water in the river and stream is not likely to increase. Because of this you need not to depend upon the cost of fuels like coal, oil and natural gas in the international market and hence the cost of electricity generated is comparatively constant.
Cost effective: Micro-hydropower systems are cost-effective in longer run. With latest technologies properly designed and implemented systems can offer inexpensive energy for many years.
Although gasoline and Diesel generators are presently cheaper to buy, however their ever-increasing cost and maintenance has made them expensive to operate. Micro-hydropower installations in earlier times were expensive to built but cheap to run. However, with the latest lighter and more efficient higher-speed turbine equipment, inexpensive plastic penstock pipes and the lower cost of electronic speedand load-control systems the initial installation price is decreasing.
No doubt, initial investment in case of Micro hydro is more but their long life, low maintenance and running costs and rising renewable energy incentives make it an attractive investment for many applications.
But once they are built, the energy to run hydropower systems is almost free. Under suitable conditions, it is one of the most costeffective forms of renewable energy.
Efficient energy source: Micro-hydro power can generate many times more power than several other sources for the same capital investment. It only takes a small amount of input (as little as two gallons per minute) or a potential difference as low as two feet to generate electricity with micro hydro. Reliable energy source: The technology of MicroHydroelectric power plants is reliable and proven over time.
Very Long Life Span: MicroHydroelectric power plants normally last for 20 to 30 years which is no doubt longer than most other kinds of generating systems. If you live in remote locations and there is a stream flowing through or near your property then MicroHydro is a best option for you. You can use hydroelectric system to power your home and can even sell electricity to your neighbors.