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Kerala, located on India’s tropical Malabar Coast, has nearly 600 Km of Arabian Seashore line. It is known for its Palm-lined beaches, backwaters and the network of canals. Kerala, replete with scenic beauty and a chief tourist spot, is however, still unable to meets its power demands. With continuous increase in population, the demand for power is also on the rise. The renewable power potential and more than 3,000 MW of exploitable hydropower capacity. Renewable energy technologies have neither attracted the requisite level of investment nor tangible policy commitment. In order to meet growing energy and power requirements, the state has decided to allow greater private investment in setting up power plants from hydel sources. Along with active participation of the local people, the  energy Management Centre (EMC), Thiruvananthapuram, has been instrumental in setting up environment-friendly systems of development of power as aims and objectives of establishing the UNIDO project at the EMC is to further strengthen the small hydropower related activities of the centre, several renewable energy related awareness building and training programmes would be conducted in order to promote and accelerate sustainable development, design of cost effective RETs using locally manufactured equipment, materials labour and organizing consultancy services on comphrehensive aspects of renewable enrgy systems and small hydropower development.

The UNIDO Regional Centre (RC) for small Hydropower power (UNIDORC) at the EMC, Trivendrum, initiated such as endeavor in Mankulam, the only un-electrified panchayat and an agriculture resource –rich village in Idukki district, devoid of communication facilities. This was done in association with the local self-government of this panchayat. All the six waterfalls found within the area of this panchayat possess requisite power generation potential. The regional centre stepped in and brought two turbine generators of 55 kW, each from china, through UNIDO’s international centre- the ICSHP. The panchayat and EMC raised resources and created a 4 km stretch of 11 kV line and the RC completed the distribution network to provide power to about 250 families. The total cost of this project is about 6.7 million and the power generation cost works out to be 1.63 per unit, without transmission and distribution network (2.5 million).

The plant has a net head of 70m and a discharge of 0.1 cubic meters per second per seconds each. The local people have been trained to run the plant the local people have been trained to run the plant, thus, generating employment opportunities, in addition to the voltage improvements in the locality, and thereby reducing losses to the utility. The panchayat is also planning to develop the area as a tourist spot by redirecting the water from the power house into an area proposed for a lake.

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Source: Akshay Urja 9(5)