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What is Pico-Hydro?

A hydropower system captures the energy of moving water for some

useful purpose. Wherever there are mountains and streams,
hydropower can bring low-cost electricity to isolated communities
without polluting the air or water. Furthermore, hydropower is a
proven technology; people have been obtaining energy from falling
water for thousands of years. Hydropower is still being used on many
different scales for many purposes, from small grain-grinding facilities
to huge hydroelectric dams that provide electricity to entire cities.

Pico-hydro is a term used to describe the smallest systems, covering

hydroelectric power generation under 5kW. Depending on its size, a
pico-hydro power system may provide a small, remote community
with adequate electricity to power light bulbs, radios, and televisions,
among other appliances.
Pump-as-Turbine (PAT) Systems
Typical hydropower systems convert the energy of falling water to
mechanical energy with a turbine. In some cases, it may be more
appropriate to replace the turbine with a centrifugal water pump,
and run it in reverse.
Using a pump as a turbine has numerous benefits for rural pico-
hydro projects in the developing world. Since centrifugal water
pumps can usually be found locally, one avoids paying expensive
import taxes, and since the pump is a familiar technology to local
pump and motor technicians, it can be serviced if problems arise.
This is far easier than finding renewable energy technicians
specializing in pico-hydro turbines. Furthermore, pumps are
manufactured to operate under a wide range of conditions, are
easy to install, and spare parts for these pumps are easy to find.
Pumps as Turbines (P.A.T)
System Components
The Intake -This is where the water flows into the system. It should be designed so
that it remains clear of debris.
The Trashrack - A metal or fabric mesh covering the intake such that material is
blocked from entering the pipe.
The Weir - A structure designed to divert the flow of water into the intake. It also
maintains the level of the water at the intake,
The Channel - If the stream is far away from the point of use, this diverts water a
relatively large distance to the inlet of the penstock pipe. This component is not
usually necessary, although if an irrigation channel is available, that may be used.
The Forebay - A basin located just before the penstock pipe that may serve as a
settling basin to remove waterborne debris that may otherwise damage the
turbine impeller over time. This part is probably unnecessary for most systems, as
it is more difficult to build a forebay tank of adequate size than to replace the
impeller in the turbine.
The Penstock Pipe - This vital piece of equipment serves to carry the water from
the intake to the turbine.
The Powerhouse - This structure protects the turbine, generator, and electrical
equipment. How big it is and where it is located depends upon the size of the
equipment and the characteristics of the site.
The Pump-As-Turbine This transforms the energy of falling
water into mechanical energy.
The Motor-As-Generator This transforms mechanical energy
into electrical energy.
The Draft tube / Tailrace - A short, open canal that leads the water from the
powerhouse back into the stream from which the water came. This may not be
necessary if the turbine outlet is located near enough to the stream.
Pump as turbine off-grid induction C-2C

Ballast Load ELC

Motor Run
in Box

15A 10A

Total To
6A 380V 235V Current Village

2C C
50F 25F


4 kVA 380V
Other Developments in Low head
Pico/Micro hydel
Archimedean Screw type turbine
Vortex flow turbine
In- Pipe turbine
Hydro kinetic turbine
Archimedian Screw type Turbine

The advantages are as below,

1. Speed as low as 25rpm resulting long
life, negligible wear & tear.
2. Good operating efficiency.
3. Fish Friendly.
4. No extensive civil work required.
5. No noise pollution.
6. Minimal cutting of trees, no
displacement of habitation.
7.Negligible maintenance due to low
rotation speed.
8.Operative life of over 30 years.
Vortex flow turbine
The water passes
through a straight inlet
and then passes
tangentially into a
round basin. The water
forms a big vortex over
the center bottom
drain of the basin.
Turbine is withdrawing
rotational energy from
the vortex, which is
converted into electric
energy by a generator
In-Pipe turbine
The Kirloskar In-Pipe turbine is a hydraulic turbine generator that
generates electricity from the potential energy available in water.
The Kirloskar In-Pipe turbine generator unit design consists of inlet
guide vanes, rotor and a draft tube. The PM generator is mounted
on the turbine rotor itself. The entire turbine generator unit is
designed as a piece of pipe which is laid where a steady potential
head & flow of water can be made available in a pipe.

A radial-flux electrical generator is integrated into

the turbine by incorporating permanent magnets
on the rotor and electrical coils on the stator. The
hydraulic power is converted to rotative mechanical
power by the turbine blades which in turn rotate
the electrical (PM) rotor which is integrated with
the turbine rotor on its shroud. Electricity is
produced in the stator winding housed in the
turbine casing above the rotor. A draft tube is
positioned downstream of the rotor at the turbine
exit for maximizing the power output.