To transform the energy system, we strive for innovation in its component parts: production, distribution, and consumption. We believe generating electricity from renewable resources will play an increasingly important role in the transition to cleaner energy. As a result, we are developing innovative renewable power projects to serve its own customers as well as other utilities, businesses and communities throughout the World.
For small, remote communities that require only a small amount of electricity in the range of 1 kW to 5 kW, Pico-Hydro-Plant with smaller turbines of 200 to 300 Watts may power a single home with a head of 1 meter. The setup can be installed at run-of-stream (without dam) and the pipes divert some flow down a gradient through penstock and through the turbine before being exhausted back to the stream . Two examples of pico hydro power can be found in the towns of Kithamba and Thimba in the Central Province of Kenya. These produce 1.1 kW and 2.2 kW, respectively. A five gallon bucket hydroelectric generator was the subject of a work group at 2008 International Development Design Summit (IDDS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During summer 2013, an energy project in Abra Malaga, Peru was completed using a bucket generator.
Hydro-electric systems have great potential, but several things can make using this technology difficult. Diverting the water in a stream or creek is likely subject to regulation by local authorities and may require seeking approval. You also may need to contend with droughts or floods. All hydro turbines have moving parts that require maintenance and periodic replacement. The most common maintenance chore is keeping debris out of the intake [5-8]. Despite the various challenges, most of the problems can be easily overcome. If installed correctly and properly maintained, a pico or micro-hydro system can provide many years of service. The predictable and often ample output is the envy of those restricted to using only wind or solar electricity . At night, when the usage of electricity is minimal, the system charges battery bank and thus becomes ready for another day of energy use when demand peaks up.
In relation to rural development the simplicity and low relative cost of micro hydro 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. Micro-hydro can even run a certain level of machinery supporting small businesses. 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 micro-hydro and pico-hydro systems may become more appealing.