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Small hydropower, a dependable, renewable and sustainable source of power generation is significantly contributing to solve the looming energy crisis. Yet it remains a resource that has not been tapped to its full potential and of the total installed capacity of India which is 1,99,627 MW, less than 25 per cent is contributed by hydropower.

Small Hydro Power projects are classified in to following categories:

·         Micro-Hydro (up to 100 kW)

·         Mini-Hydro (from 101-2000 kW)

·         Small Hydro (from 2001-25000 kW)

Small Hydro plants have several advantages which are given below:

ü  They need smaller capital investment and have shorter gestation periods.

ü  They have low payback period and minimal transmission losses.

ü  They also offer the benefits of electrification to isolate or remote rural areas with very low densities.

ü  They do not require the construction of large dams/reservoirs and are free from issues like submergence, rehabilitation or deforestation that are associated with large hydro power plants.

The necessity of proper installation, operation and maintenance of SHP plants is being felt globally due to a variety of constraints like the lack of expertise in design; construction or installation of SHP plants; inexperienced equipment manufacturers and suppliers; etc.

To fulfill the demands i.e. in order to develop the expertise for these aspects, it is imperative that manpower at all the levels be trained through specific training programmes conducted by technical institutes.

·         A real time digital simulator sponsored by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has been installed at the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre (AHEC) to import training in the operation and management of SHP stations.

Performance and Testing of the SHPs:-

The MNRE has been laying considerable emphasis in recent years, on the satisfactory performance of new SHP stations, linking them to financial incentives for the developer.

·         The requirements of a satisfactory performance include a good overall performance i.e. the weighted average efficiency of generating units is at least 75 per cent and the station is giving 80 per cent of the projected generation for a minimum of 3 months in continuation.

·         To meet these objectives, the GOI has made the testing and evaluation of SHP stations mandatory, for the purpose of verifying their performance and release of the subsidy.

·         To meet these challenges, and to improve the quality and performance of SHP stations in the country, the MNRE issued a notification (July 2003) linking its subsidy support for SHP projects to their performance.


Source: Saini RP. June 2012. Small Hydro Power Development. Akshay Urja, 5(6), P:21-24