Small Hydro Power Plants – the Concept and Its Importance

Small Hydro Power Plants – the Concept and Its Importance

For centuries hydro energy has been used for production of mechanical energy. In the last 100 years it is also used for production of electricity. The kinetic energy of water flow is used to drive the turbine which is connected to generator that transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy. Large hydro power plants are built

For centuries hydro energy has been used for production of mechanical energy. In the last 100 years it is also used for production of electricity. The kinetic energy of water flow is used to drive the turbine which is connected to generator that transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Large hydro power plants are built on locations that have significant amount of water and height difference. Mainly those hydro power plants are built with accumulation with the dam that creates the reservoir and then with pipes water is directed to turbine. At present time there is less construction of those large hydro power plants and there is
increase in construction of small flow hydro power plants.

Small hydro power plants started to use in 1883 and first plants of this kind were in North Ireland (two turbines with power of 40 kW and height difference 10m) and in Brazil (two turbines with the power of 12 kW and height difference of 5m). Small hydro power plants also use kinetic energy of water to produce electricity. These plants are mainly flow plants, meaning that they take one part of river that goes on turbine, while other part continue its path. This water that is taken on turbine is returned again in river. Power of these plants goes up to 10 MW. The work of these plants depend a lot on annual amount of precipitations, because electricity production is directly dependent on flow of water.

The main topic in the world today is whether small hydro power plants have a negative impact on life in river. The answer on this question is that there is no answer. Everyone has different opinion about this topic. The one thing that is certain is that small power plants have less impact on environment than large hydro power plants. For example, in the construction of large hydro power plant “Three Gorges Dam” in China flooded about 29 million square kilometers of land and displaced over million people to make artificial lake that now collects all dirt and garbage from surrounding cities.

The main advantages of small hydro power plants are:

– There are no negative emissions (sulfur, nitrogen and carbon oxides)

- Safer and more reliable supply of electricity (total efficiency over 90%)

- Positive social impacts (employment)

- Flow control and river flooding

The main disadvantages of small hydro power plants are:

- The impact on river bio system

- Noise and vibration

- Variation of flow (water level)

- High investment costs

Everyone will and can say their opinion about small hydro power plants but the fact is that they are renewable energy. They do not emit negative emissions into the atmosphere and does not contribute to climate change. Bosnia and Herzegovina have potential to construct and build new small hydro power plants and we have new investors coming. Those investments will help local people with the new jobs.

Renewable Energy Projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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