Water power can be utilized in numerous ways; tidal flows can be used to generate power by building a barrage across an estuary and discharging water in a controlled and systematic manner by a turbine; large dams accumulate water, which can be utilized to provide ample quantities of power; wave power is also harnessed in different ways. It is a method that has been in use throughout the world, by a diverse range of cultures and societies. Water can be harnessed from small to large hydro electric plants.
In United Kingdom, water mills are in use for the past 900 years. Their numbers grew rapidly and by the end of 19th century, there were over 20,000 water mills in operation in England itself. In Europe, Asia and few parts of Africa, water wheels were utilized to propel various industrial machineries, such as mills and pumps. First effective water turbine appeared in the middle of 19th century and they started replacing water wheels in various applications. In contrast to the water wheels and turbines, modern turbines are small, highly efficient and are capable of running at high speed. Hydropower is a reliable technology, relying on non -polluting, renewable and indigenous resource, which can easily integrate with irrigation and water supply projects all across the globe. Of the total, china constitutes more than 85,000 small-scale, electricity generating hydropower plants.
In the last decade, there has been a growing realization in emerging economies in which micro - hydro schemes have played an important role in the economic development of remote rural areas, especially mountains. Micro hydro schemes can generate power for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses through direct mechanical power or by the coupling the turbine to a generator to develop electricity.
In order to determine the power potential of the water flowing in a river it is important to determine both the flow rate of the water and the head by which the water can be made to fall. The flow rate is the amount of water flowing past a point in a specific time. Generally, flow rate units are liters per second. The head is the vertical height measured in meters from the turbine up to the point, where the water enters the penstock.
However, some amount energy is always lost when it is transformed from one form to another. Small water turbines hardly have efficiencies more than 75%. Power will also be wasted in the pipe carrying the water to the turbine, due to some frictional losses. By a systematic design, this loss can be lower down to a small percentage. A rough guide used for small systems of a few kW rating is utilized to take the overall efficiency as approximately as 45%. Hence, the theoretical power has to be multiplied by 0.50 for more accurate results.
Growing population and developing economies are some of the key drivers of the micro hydroelectric generator market. However, limited exposure regarding micro hydroelectric generators can hinder the growth of the market. Ample opportunities are there for the micro hydroelectric generator market owing to rapid industrialization taking place in Asia Pacific countries such as India and China.
Some of the key companies in the business of Micro hydroelectric generator market are Rainbow Power Company Ltd, Brownell Micro Hydro, Hebden Bridge Alternative Technology Centre Ltd., Canyon Industries, Inc., Addnew Technologies Limited, Alps Power Technologies (P) Limited and Addnew Technologies Limited among others.
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