Micro hydroelectric power units on streams

Providing ongoing electricity in remote areas can be solved via micro hydroelectric power. People with access to a stream that offers about an eight metre head of water, can generate their own electricity. Setting up more than one turbine along the same stream is a good idea.
/~Once installed, the micro-hydro technology can be cheaper than solar power, photovoltaic, grid extensions or diesel generators of equivalent output. The technology has long been successfully and widely used in Vietnam, the Philippines and South America. Around 60,000 units are running worldwide. In Africa, the technology is little used so far, but the potential is huge.
Micro-hydro generation systems use a water stream or jet directed onto the blades of an impeller. The turning shaft is connected to an alternator which generates power, the amount of which depends on the volume of water flow and water pressure. Provided a steady water flow is available, these units generate power for 24 hours where photovoltaic panels and wind turbines rely on periodic sunlight and wind.
One supplier offers a range of Brazilian-made turbines consisting of a 200W to 100kW low and high (water) head models. Large units generate power of 1kW to 2.5kW for medium to high heads; even larger models allow for the generation of 4kW to 25kW. The price for these Brazilian-made water turbines ranges from about $900 to $5,000, depending on size and pressure rating of the unit.
A South African company, based in Durban, offers a South African-made unit which it claims is of superior quality. However the South African maker warns that every installation is an individual project and that projects are seldom simple.
Once installed, however, there are no running costs and the maintenance (with good quality units) is extremely low – the only wearing parts are the bearings.
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