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Small Hydro Power Plants


  1. Product Description:- Hydro power plants are physical infrastructures which produce electric power utilizing hydro (water) to generate power. The economic development of a region often cannot proceed without the availability of a reliable energy supply, the preferred from of which is electricity. In order to keep generation, transmission and distribution costs in rural areas to an acceptable level, a decentralized structure of energy supply is needed. Small hydro power stations in isolated operation work at a low distribution expense unconnected to the grid system. The small hydro power plants envisaged in this project idea are small power generating units which can be installed in rivers where there are falls with enough water volume to operate turbines for generating electricity.


  1. Rationale:-Among the modern sources of energy, petroleum, coal water, the most economical and environment friendly is water or hydro power. This source of energy is not only least expensive and “clean”, but it is also least dependent on the availability of foreign exchange. In addition, it can be installed in rural areas independent of the national grid system.


  1. Market Potential:- The main product of small hydro power plant is electric energy and light. These products are in short supply not only in the Amhara Region but also in the whole country especially in the rural areas. The non-availability of modern energy sources is one major indicator of the degree of underdevelopment of any country or region. This lack of modern energy is one main characteristics of the Amhara Region. Due to the limited supply of modern energy, the energy needs of the Region are met from traditional energy sources such as fuel wood, dung and crop residues. The use of fuel wood for generating energy has caused the widespread destruction of the forest resources of the Region. Any alternative sources of energy will be readily accepted and utilized by energy consumers of the Region. Between 1995 and 2004, average annual production of electricity was 1.778 billion KWH. Roughly the share of the Amhara Region is 355.6 million KWH. This electric power consumption is for the urban population which is not more than 12 percent of the total population of the Region

  1. If we assume that at least 40 percent of the rural population should be provided with electric power, consumption of this energy type will be 1.043 billion KWH. This amounts to an installed electric generating capacity of 356,07 KW. This electric power could be generated by employing alternative technologies using different sources of power such thermal, hydro, nuclear or geothermal. The least expensive of these is hydro power which utilizes water for producing energy.  The water power can be obtained either by building big dams and installing huge turbines in a few locations or by utilizing water from small rivers through the establishment of small hydro-power plants. This alternative is not only the least expensive, but it can be established in many places where there are small rivers. The small hydro-power plants will be distributed in many part of a region thereby making it possible remote and rural localities receive electric power from these small hydro-power plants.

Less than eight percent of the people in the Amhara region are fortunate enough to have electric supply at home and these people live in some of the bigger urban centers of the Region. The rest of the Amhara land has no electric power supply even for the provision of light. If electric supply is made available from small hydro power stations (which has the potential of selling the power cheaper) there are about 17.7 million people in the Amhara Region who spend every evening in the dark but who dream about getting electric light like their fellow countrymen of the cities and towns . In short, the problem of electric power in the Amhara Region is not abut demand but supply.


  1. Source of Raw Material:- Not applicable for this project idea.


  1. Process  Technology:- Many small hydro-power plants supply electric energy to villages, big plantations and mines, manufacturing units, workshops, garages, clinics, schools, etc. in a later stages of development when demand for energy increases, many adjacent isolated small hydro-power plants can be interconnected and finally linked to the main electric power supply system.

Establishing and operating small hydropower plants is possible where a usable surface water supply is available with sufficient water flow and head. Components of the whole installations of a small hydro power plant include water reservoir, dam, head race, overflow of head-race intake to penstock, trash rack, penstock, power house, tail race, river and transmission line.


  1. Estimated Investment:- The cost of a complete installation can be predicated roughly where one-third is the cost of the machine set, one third the cost of the hydraulic engineering and one third the cost of power transmission. For  a plant which will generate 600,000 KWH at 60 percent utilization rate or generating capacity of 200 KW estimated investment will be as follows:

§         Machinery                                                Birr 2,000,000

§         Hydraulic engineering                                Birr 1,500,000

§         Power transmission                                   Birr 1,500,000


  1. Benefits:- Provides power and light to peasants, saves fuel wood thereby conserving the forest resources of the Region, facilitates the development of manufacturing and other energy consuming industries, introduces new skills and technology, substitutes diesel plants thereby saving foreign exchange, utilizes the natural resource of the Region.


  1. Location:- Localities where there are rivers with sufficient water supply and it possible with water falls of considerable distance.