Commenced in January 2007
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Paper Count: 2

small-scale hydropower Related Abstracts

2 A Feasibility and Implementation Model of Small-Scale Hydropower Development for Rural Electrification in South Africa: Design Chart Development

Authors: Gideon J. Bonthuys, Marco van Dijk, Jay N. Bhagwan


Small scale hydropower used to play a very important role in the provision of energy to urban and rural areas of South Africa. The national electricity grid, however, expanded and offered cheap, coal generated electricity and a large number of hydropower systems were decommissioned. Unfortunately, large numbers of households and communities will not be connected to the national electricity grid for the foreseeable future due to high cost of transmission and distribution systems to remote communities due to the relatively low electricity demand within rural communities and the allocation of current expenditure on upgrading and constructing of new coal fired power stations. This necessitates the development of feasible alternative power generation technologies. A feasibility and implementation model was developed to assist in designing and financially evaluating small-scale hydropower (SSHP) plants. Several sites were identified using the model. The SSHP plants were designed for the selected sites and the designs for the different selected sites were priced using pricing models (civil, mechanical and electrical aspects). Following feasibility studies done on the designed and priced SSHP plants, a feasibility analysis was done and a design chart developed for future similar potential SSHP plant projects. The methodology followed in conducting the feasibility analysis for other potential sites consisted of developing cost and income/saving formulae, developing net present value (NPV) formulae, Capital Cost Comparison Ratio (CCCR) and levelised cost formulae for SSHP projects for the different types of plant installations. It included setting up a model for the development of a design chart for a SSHP, calculating the NPV, CCCR and levelised cost for the different scenarios within the model by varying different parameters within the developed formulae, setting up the design chart for the different scenarios within the model and analyzing and interpreting results. From the interpretation of the develop design charts for feasible SSHP in can be seen that turbine and distribution line cost are the major influences on the cost and feasibility of SSHP. High head, short transmission line and islanded mini-grid SSHP installations are the most feasible and that the levelised cost of SSHP is high for low power generation sites. The main conclusion from the study is that the levelised cost of SSHP projects indicate that the cost of SSHP for low energy generation is high compared to the levelised cost of grid connected electricity supply; however, the remoteness of SSHP for rural electrification and the cost of infrastructure to connect remote rural communities to the local or national electricity grid provides a low CCCR and renders SSHP for rural electrification feasible on this basis.

Keywords: Cost, Rural Electrification, feasibility, small-scale hydropower

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1 A Case Study of Low Head Hydropower Opportunities at Existing Infrastructure in South Africa

Authors: Marco van Dijk, Ione Loots, Jay Bhagwan


Historically, South Africa had various small-scale hydropower installations in remote areas that were not incorporated in the national electricity grid. Unfortunately, in the 1960s most of these plants were decommissioned when Eskom, the national power utility, rapidly expanded its grid and capability to produce cheap, reliable, coal-fired electricity. This situation persisted until 2008, when rolling power cuts started to affect all citizens. This, together with the rising monetary and environmental cost of coal-based power generation, has sparked new interest in small-scale hydropower development, especially in remote areas or at locations (like wastewater treatment works) that could not afford to be without electricity for long periods at a time. Even though South Africa does not have the same, large-scale, hydropower potential as some other African countries, significant potential for micro- and small-scale hydropower is hidden in various places. As an example, large quantities of raw and potable water are conveyed daily under either pressurized or gravity conditions over large distances and elevations. Due to the relative water scarcity in the country, South Africa also has more than 4900 registered dams of varying capacities. However, institutional capacity and skills have not been maintained in recent years and therefore the identification of hydropower potential, as well as the development of micro- and small-scale hydropower plants has not gained significant momentum. An assessment model and decision support system for low head hydropower development has been developed to assist designers and decision makers with first-order potential analysis. As a result, various potential sites were identified and many of these sites were situated at existing infrastructure like weirs, barrages or pipelines. One reason for the specific interest in existing infrastructure is the fact that capital expenditure could be minimized and another is the reduced negative environmental impact compared to greenfield sites. This paper will explore the case study of retrofitting an unconventional and innovative hydropower plant to the outlet of a wastewater treatment works in South Africa.

Keywords: retrofitting, small-scale hydropower, low head hydropower, wastewater treatment works

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