Energy from Water

What is the chain of technology development and delivery that enables small scale decentralised electrification of unelectrified rural areas?

 

An example technology is pico-hydro that uses local streams as a resource.

  • The technology is transferred as an asset to households of farmers with access to streams, in the Western Ghats region.
  • Most critically, the households decide the allocation of water between electricity generation and irrigation - they manage their demand for electricity based on water availability. The entire system retrofits into their current irrigation infrastructure.
  • At the same time, there is an entire value chain of enterprises that develop the technology and deliver it to the farmer's doorstep, integrating access to MNRE subsidies and loans as necessary. 

This series of videos captures some elements of this value chain:

 

 

Mr Murali, founder of Prakruti Hydro Labs ( A Micro-hydro company) explains a micro-hydro testing unit. A pump simulates the necessary head (the height through which the water falls), a valve can help control flow, a pressure gauge to measure the head. This passes water through a turbine. The Turbine turns a generator producing electricity which is distributed to end use through a control panel and load controller. Prakruti Hydro Labs has developed a product for 1KW that can be used in small streams to light up homes in remote regions.

 

 

Prakruti Hydro Labs, in addition to developing the product has evolved a delivery chain to ensure its products reach those who need it. It has created three dealerships across the hill belt of Karnataka - based out of Sirsi (Northern hills), Shimoga (Central hills) and Belthangady (Southern hills). Each dealership has tied up currently with farmer cooperative banks and maintains a relationship with the Central Government's Renewable Energy Ministry. They bundle along with installation and commissioning services, access to subsidy and access to a loan that bridges the finance need between installation and subsidy release.

 

 

This captures a conversations with Mr Madhu, a young ITI diploma in Electrical and an employee of Nisarga Environment Technologies - one of the Micro hydro product dealerships of Prakruti hydro labs (see part 1 and part 2 of the videos). He has enabled the delivery and installation of this unit to Mr Sridhar Bhat who explains how he uses the system. The electricity is transmitted to Mr Bhat's house, around 500 m upstream of the little stream with a set of wires. At his house, there is control panel with an electronic load controller which manages changing loads (appliances being switched on and off). From the control panel, input is given to the home. Mr Bhat also manages allocation of water between the system and irrigation for his farm.

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