Investment and Maintenance
Since small hydro plants are relatively small compared to large hydro plants, theConstruction and maintenance charges for them are lower. Mostly small hydro plants areused for off-grid applications as they can be set up in remote isolated areas and can also beeasily managed. The initial investment required for setting up of a small hydro plant variesfrom $6000 to $20000.On the other hand, the investments for the initial setup of a large hydro plant are much higher and they also have higher maintenance costs. The initial investment for setting up of a largehydro plant varies from $60000 to $100000. Similarly the maintenance costs associated arealso very high.
Small Hydro plants are normally located in isolated areas and are mostly off-grid systemsand are run of river based whereas large hydro plants mostly have dams or reservoirs to storethe water and use it as and when required to generate the required amount of power. They aregrid connected and are mostly used to meet peaking power requirements. Small hydro plantsare mainly used to power up small customers with low electricity requirements.
The up gradation of small hydro plants is very limited as there is not sufficient head todevelop the system to generate more power, but in case of large hydro plants up gradationand addition of new more powerful systems is possible so better utilization is possible.
The environmental impacts associated with large hydro projects is very big because a lot of land and forest has to be cleared, similarly a large area also gets submerged which destroysthe habitat for a large number of plants and animal species leading to destruction to a lot of flora and fauna. They also give rise to lot of R & R issues as a lot of people living in theregion have to be displaced to other places which in turn increases the costs. The bestexample of such destruction is the Narmada valley project. It is a series of 3,200 dams to be built over a century on the Narmada River in the western part of the country. The NarmadaSagar dam will submerge 40,332 hectares of forest land, not including the 1,500 hectaresneeded to build staff housing and other construction facilities. The Sardar Sarovar dam willsubmerge 13,744 hectares of forest land. The Sardar Sarovar and Narmada Sagar areasshelter panthers, tigers, sloth bears, antelopes, barking and spotted deer, sam bars, black buck, wild boar, porcupines, wildcats,foxes, hyenas, wolves, black langurs, flying squirrels,