WHAT IS SHP?
Small hydropower (SHP) is a proven, mature technology for provision of clean and renewable energy. Hydropower converts energy from flowing water into electrical or mechanical energy. For SHP systems that are run-of-river, construction of a dam or reservoir is not required and the water runs directly through the generator back into the river. Small, micro, and mini hydropower systems thus produce minimal to zero ecological impact.
In addition to run-of-river systems, SHP technology may be installed in existing water infrastructure (ie irrigation canals, dams, conduit pipes) to provide added energy capacity.
There is no agreed upon definition for small hydropower (SHP) worldwide. However, SHP generally refers to hydropower stations with an installed power capacity below 10 MW, mini hydro less than 500kW, and micro hydro less than 100kW. The energy output will depend on two key factors, namely the water flow and height drop (head).
Various types of SHP schemes exist. SHP plants can either be connected to the grid, operate as stand-alone plants, or connect with other SHP plants in the area to form a mini-grid.
Statistics from the 2013 World Small Hydro Power Development Report (WSHPDR) reveal there is an estimated 173 MW of untapped SHP potential worldwide (57% of total available).
Benefits of SHP
1. Short construction period, low investment, easy maintenance, long lifespan;
2. Local power supply for remote areas without grid access;
3. Minimal to zero ecological impact; non-polluting;
4. Abundant resources (rivers, streams, reservoirs, pipe systems);
5. Generally no issues with displacement of people or compensation during construction;
6. Multipurpose schemes (irrigation, flood protection, water supply etc) made more economically attractive.
Renewable energy for sustainable development
Small hydropower is a local, indigenous source of renewable energy able to meet the electrification needs of countries. Among its benefits, SHP has the potential to play an important role in developed and developing countries:
- Through provision of stable, clean electricity for countries with energy shortages or energy security issues;
- As part of rural electrification programs where it is prohibitively expensive to connect rural, mountainous communities to the national grid;
- To help countries meet renewable energy and GHG emission reduction targets.