Micro hydro power gains traction in State

Eco concerns and high costs a drag on major projects

February 27, 2018 12:16 am | Updated 12:16 am IST - T.Nandakumar Thiruvananthapuram

With major hydel projects becoming increasingly unsustainable due to environmental concerns and high costs, decentralised micro hydro power projects (up to 100 kilowatt) are gaining traction as a renewable energy source in Kerala and other States.

The Energy Management Centre, an autonomous agency under the government, has taken up work on two 10 kW vortex turbines at Kaduvetty in the Killi river, near Sasthamangalam, in the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation limits. The work is in progress and is scheduled to be completed by May 2018, according to G. Anil, Head, Small Hydro Power Division, EMC.

The vortex turbine harnesses flowing water in a river or canal and redirects it to a round basin to form a whirlpool which drives a generator to deliver decentralised clean energy at low cost for a neighbourhood. The low pressure turbine is easy to install and does not harm the environment. The turbine is the only moving part in the system, reducing maintenance costs.

In a paper presented at the Kerala Renewable Energy Congress 2018 which began here on Monday, Mr. Anil said the EMC would hand over the project to the city Corporation for integration into the Smart City programme. The power generated would be evacuated to the low tension line of KSEBL through a power purchase agreement between the utility and the local body. The project would be a revenue generating activity for the corporation.

Survey to be held

EMC Director Dharesan Unnithan said efforts were on to popularise micro hydel projects. “We have plans to conduct a river basin study to identify suitable locations.”

EMC has successfully installed four 5 kW hydrokinetic turbines in an array in the cooling water channel at the lignite-based thermal power plant at Neyveli. Kinetic turbines produce power directly from flowing water without the need for a dam or artificial head.

The agency has commissioned micro hydro power grid projects at Thayannankudy, a tribal colony inside the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, and Eachampetty, near Marayur. It has also installed 100 pico (under 5 kW) hydro turbine schemes in Idukki, Wayanad, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, and Thiruvananthapuram districts.

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