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Denawaka Ganga the run of river mini hydropower project is located in

Ratnapura District approximately 115 km far from Colombo and it is
accessible from Ratnapura- Balangoda main road. Having the install
capacity around 7.2 MW, the plant is expected to generate emission free
electricity of about 25 GWh annually and will be expected to the grid.

Country Energy (Pvt) Ltd.which is the subsidiary of Vallibel Power Erathna

PLC is the project developer which is one of the leading mini hydropower
plant developers in Sri Lanka. The project was initiated in September 2002
effectively using the water flow of Denawaka Ganga, which is a main
tributary of Kalu Ganga. The project comprises of diversion weir, headrace
channel, fore bay tank, penstocks, powerhouse, tailrace and switchyard.
Being an environmental friendly renewable energy project it has been
capable of replacing electricity generated by fossil fuel based power
plants. Thus implementing this project, approximately 13,500 tonnes of
CO2 will be reduced annually. Apart from the reduction of green house gas
emission from existing thermal plants, this project will create many social
and environmental benefits, including employment opportunities,
construction of infrastructure and preserving valuable fossil fuel.

Main parts of the mini hydro power project

The weir is a straight concrete gravity
structure made of plum concrete with an
ogee profile. It builds up head and thus
potential for the river water. The diversion
weirs are constructed not only to raise the
water level but also to divert the river flow
in another direction. Thus a 30 m length
weir with a maximum height of 2.5 m was
constructed in this mini hydro power plant to divert water to the intake. In
order to prevent silt and trash entering the channel, a trash screen was


The intake structure is situated at the entrance of the channel which

conveyed the water to the fore bay. It makes smooth and turbulence free
water into the channel and stops river-borne trash matter entering into
the channel controlling the water flow by a gate or a valve. Satisfying the
requirement of getting 25m3/s flow with 1.25 m/s flow velocity the intake
was constructed with 3m wide and 2.5 m high 4 sluice gates. It conveys
the water into the concrete headrace channel. The intake is 30m long,
20m wide and 2.2m deep.

Headrace channel

The intake leads to the rectangular profiled headrace channel of 1,800 m

length made of reinforced concrete and it lies on the right bank of the
stream having 4.4m inner width and 2.2m of wall height and design flow
of 27m3/s. This bank has moderately steep slopes, and the bedrock is
marginally weathered.

Sedimentation Tank

To remove the small particles carried in the water, the flow must be
slowed down in sedimentation tank so that the silt particles settle on the
tank floor. The deposit formed should be periodically flushed away.

These are designed to control overflow at certain points along the channel
and the spillways discharge the flood flow to the downstream.

Fore bay

The headrace channel ends at the fore bay tank which acts as a regulating
reservoir made of reinforced concrete with a trash screen and it was
placed before the penstock entry. The top of the fore bay was covered
while a spillway is constructed just upstream of the fore bay. The water
carried by the channel is distributed to penstocks through the fore bay
tank which is 50m long, 9.3m wide and 10m of height. The water
temporarily stored in the fore bay in the event of a rejection of load by the
turbine and there is a withdrawal from it when the load is increased.


Then water is diverted into the penstock to deliver into the turbines which
are geologically well stable, and minor excavation was required. The
penstock comprises three welded steel pipes at fore bay, having diameter
of 1850mm each. Then the three pipes reduce to 1785mm diameter at the
Anchor 2. At the third anchor, the middle pipe bifurcates into two pipes
having diameters of 1220mm each and other two reduce to 1720mm
diameter and continue same up to the power house. The pipe was brought
to site in 5.8m sections and welded together at site. Total length of the
steel pipes was covered with reinforced concrete and it was buried with
soil. The length of the penstock is 107m and the design flow of one pipe is
8.3m2/s each of 3 pipes.

Penstocks are the pipes that supply water from the fore bay to the
turbines. Penstocks are the pressure conduits and when the distance
between the fore bay and the power house is short, a separate penstock
for each turbine is preferable.


The powerhouse consists of the turbines, generators and control room.

The turbine bay contains a 25MT capacity crane for handling of the
equipment during installation and repairs. The necessary transformer and
high voltage switchgear were housed outside the powerhouse.

The project generates electricity at 6.6kV and then steps it up to 33kV via
four transformers. The electricity generated exported via a 33kV
transmission line of 10.2 km length to the 33kV line at the Ratnapura Grid

The powerhouse was built adjacent to the river at the downstream end of
the drop. It is 54m long, 14.5m wide and 18m high.


Turbine 1 & 2 Turbine 3 & 4

No. of units 2 2
Mean diameter of 1.12 m 0.8 m
Rated speed 428.6 rpm 600 rpm
Max runaway speed 890 rpm 1,246 rpm
Type Horizontal Francis hydro Horizontal Francis hydro
turbine turbine
Turbine power output 2,660 kW 1,344 kW


Generator 1 &2 Generator 3&4

No. of units 2 2
Rated output power 2,500 kW 1,250 kW
Rated voltage 6,600 V 6,600 V
Excitation Static SCR excitation Static SCR excitation
Rated speed 428.6 rpm 600 rpm
Max. runaway speed 890 rpm

The hydraulic turbines coupled with the generators achieve the main
objective of converting water energy to electric power.
Other than the turbines and generators, a hydro power
plant has various mechanical and electrical equipment
such as exciters, voltage regulators, transformers and
control room equipment etc.


The tailrace channel conveys the tail water back to the

river. Tail race is the path which let the water out of the hydro power plant
after power generation.

Transmission line

The 33kV transmission line was 10.2 km long, and connected up to the
33kV line at the Ratnapura Grid Substation. A single circuit concrete pole
line was built along the road from the powerhouse to the feeder. The
transmission system delivers bulk power from the power station to the
load centres. The electricity is transmitted by either underground cables
or overhead lines.

Hydro power generation Procedure

Hydro power plants convert the kinetic energy of water to electric energy
by turning a turbine and then rotating a generator which produces
electricity. In a run-of-the-river system, the force of the current applies the
required pressure. The Erathna Small Hydropower Project uses directed
water in a run-of-the-river system.

1. Current pulls the water

through the penstock that
leads to the turbine. Water
pressure increases as it
flows through the penstock.

2. The water strikes the large

turbine blades, turning
them. As they rotate, so do
a series of magnets inside
the generator above,
connected to the turbine by way of a shaft.

3. As the large magnets rotate past copper coils, an alternate

current (AC) is produced.

4. A transformer converts the alternate current (AC) to current of a


5. Finally, four wires leave the power plant three carrying power and
one common neutral wire.
6. Meanwhile, used water flows through pipelines called tailraces, to
re-enter the river downstream.

Importance of having mini hydro power plants in Sri Lanka

Mini hydro is also known as Village Hydro in Sri Lanka denotes its
community based operation and Illustrates successfully developed rural
off grid initiatives getting a reliable source of electricity. Due to the
geographical configuration having a rain fed central hill zone, Sri Lanka
enjoys a good hydropower potential. This concept introduces a simple
turbine, generator and control system to areas with small water sources.
Since it reduces the use of fossil fuel, it can be used to replace their use
for driving machinery, generating electricity and for lighting. Hence Mini
hydro power projects can be considered as Green technology as it does
not generate any greenhouse gases or heat. Mini hydro does not have the
environmental impact for which large scale hydro systems are criticized as
it uses only a proportion of the water in the stream and this is replaced
only a short distance downstream.

Environment benefits

Electricity generated through sustainable means without causing any

negative impact on the environment. The renewable electricity generated
by the project displaces electricity produced by fossil fuel power plants
leading to lower overall emissions of SOx and NOx. The project reduces
approximately 13,500 t CO2e of annually as a result of displacement of
fossil-fuel based grid electricity in Sri Lanka.

More over this project results in a reduction in the water flow between the
weir and the powerhouse and mandatory discharge is released throughout
the project to avoid any impact on river ecosystem. Due to
implementation of the project, the quality of water does not change or
there is no change in the water availability downstream. The potential
environmental impacts identified were soil erosion, loss of soil stability
and slope failure, reduction in the river flow between the weir and tailrace,
some ecological impacts such as interference to fish mobility, destruction
of plants and noise. Underground tanks have been built beneath the
transformers to collect and prevent any oil leakage from the transformers
coming into contact with the river water.

As a result UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate

Change) registered it as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project
confirming that the Denawaka Ganga MHP is an environmental friendly

Moreover details about some Hydro Power Projects in Sri Lanka are shown