Hydropower could be utilized for domestic consumption when there is a constant water flow. In most cases, the flow and fall do not provide enough power to turn conventional turbines. To solve this problem, small systems referred to as micro-hydro systems are available in the market today. The systems are made up of small generators installed in the rivers or creeks and run on impulse turbines. In fact, most use the Pelton wheel.
The following are the major components of a micro Hydroelectric power plant −
Intake − The position of the generator must be near an intake. This could be achieved by damming the water to establish the necessary head and to build up pressure.
Penstock − It is a region of gravitational fall from the intake. For micro-hydro projects, pipes are used from intake to the runner of the turbine.
Turbines − The type of turbine to use relies on the size of the stream and the desired output. For most small hydros, a pelton wheel is efficient. In cases of low head, submersible reaction turbines may be used in which case the water pressure turns the blades.
Controls − Controls prevent overcharging of the battery. They regulate this by diverging excess power to the dump load.
Dump load − This is simply an alternative high resistance destinations used when the battery is fully recharged. They may include water heaters or even air conditioning system.
Battery − Micro-hydro systems do not produce large power like conventional AC systems. In order to utilize it for a number of power needs, accumulation of energy is necessary. Batteries provide a means to store the power to the amount desired. They also provide energy during outages in the system supply.
Metering − This is important to monitor power usage vis-à-vis power supply. This may help in understanding important system characteristics as well as identification of faults.
Disconnect − In any electric wiring system, there should be a guard against excess power supply. A circuit-breaker gadget should be installed on the mains to guard against damage on any gadget connected to the hydro supply.