Micro Hydro


technical information

case studies

Water power has been used in energy production for centuries. In more recent times water power for grain milling was practised in various parts of Africa including Ethiopia where grain mills began to be installed from the mid 19th Century. It was the primary source of electricity in many parts of Europe during the initial stages of the "electricity revolution" last century. Along with the European colonisation of Africa came hydro power and units were installed in many parts of the continent primarily for power on farms and estates and also for mission hospitals and schools.

Technologies are available to match the types of water resources available; these can be high, medium and low head, and technologies have been designed to suit different site specifications.

High head turbines:

  • pelton
  • turgo

Medium head turbines:

  • crossflow
  • turgo
  • Francis
  • reverse flow
Low head turbines:

  • Mitchell Banki cross flow turbines
  • propeller
  • Kaplan

The choice of turbine will also be dictated by cost, availability, and which devices can be manufactured or maintained locally. Many designs require casting of the turbine runner and an advantage of the cross flow design is it can be fabricated from sheet metal in a relatively basic workshop.

Uses of power

Hydro power has the advantage of being able to supply motive and electrical power needs. Milling, grinding, sawing, oil expelling and many other agro industrial power needs can be supplied by direct drive from the turbine shaft negating the need for more complicated electrical generation and control equipment. When electricity generation is included power can be supplied to isolated villages, industrial needs further from the turbine site and for remote schools, hospitals and commercial premises. Battery charging is also an option.

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