Monday, May 28, 2012

Mini-hydro Power Plants in Irrigation Canals.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is planning to put up 40 mini-hydro power plants. NIA administrator Antonio S. Nangel said they have already identified 20 locations in Luzon, 10 in Visayas and 10 in Mindanao.
Nagel came up with the idea of putting up mini-hydro powers in irrigation systems following his recent visit in Japan where he saw mini-hydro power plants installed in irrigation canals. He said while it can be done in Japan, it can also be done in the country where the same elevation of irrigation canals abounds.
"Our irrigation systems are mostly located in far-flung barangays and putting up this project is a great help to the prospective beneficiaries," he said.
An irrigation system, the NIA said, could produce at least 20 megawatts of electricity daily.
Each mini-hydro power plant would cost P20 million and would be shouldered by local investors. 
Nangel expressed optimism that the project will take-off as 12 firms have submitted Letter of Intent (LOI), and targeted 12 sites for development.
He said there are two memorandum of agreements (MOAs) already signed for the project but he declined to name the investors.

What is Mini-Hydro Power Plants?
Mini-hydro power plants is a type of hydroelectric power that typically produce up to 100 kW of electricity using the natural flow of water. These installations can provide power to an isolated home or small community, or are sometimes connected to electric power networks. An example of this is the Momura micro hydropower in Japan. 
The Momura Micro Hydro Power Plant in Japan

Mini-Hydro Power Plants Pros and Cons
A study on the pros and cons was published by the Alternative Energy on October 26, 2006 citing that there are some common misconceptions about micro-hydro power that need to be addressed.


1. Efficient energy source
It only takes a small amount of flow (as little as two gallons per minute) or a drop as low as two feet to generate electricity with micro hydro. Electricity can be delivered as far as a mile away to the location where it is being used.

2. Reliable electricity source
Hydro produces a continuous supply of electrical energy in comparison to other small-scale renewable technologies. The peak energy season is during the winter months when large quantities of electricity are required.

3. No reservoir required
Microhydro is considered to function as a ‘run-of-river’ system, meaning that the water passing through the generator is directed back into the stream with relatively little impact on the surrounding ecology.

4. Cost effective energy solution
Building a small-scale hydro-power system can cost from $1,000 – $20,000, depending on site electricity requirements and location. Maintenance fees are relatively small in comparison to other technologies.

5. Power for developing countries
Because of the low-cost versatility and longevity of micro hydro, developing countries can manufacture and implement the technology to help supply much needed electricity to small communities and villages.

6. Integrate with the local power grid
If your site produces a large amount of excess energy, some power companies will buy back your electricity overflow. You also have the ability to supplement your level of micro power with intake from the power grid.


1 Suitable site characteristics required
In order to take full advantage of the electrical potential of small streams, a suitable site is needed. Factors to consider are: distance from the power source to the location where energy is required, stream size (including flow rate, output and drop), and a balance of system components — inverter, batteries, controller, transmission line and pipelines.

2. Energy expansion not possible
The size and flow of small streams may restrict future site expansion as the power demand increases.

3. Low-power in the summer months
In many locations stream size will fluctuate seasonally. During the summer months there will likely be less flow and therefore less power output. Advanced planning and research will be needed to ensure adequate energy requirements are met.

4. Environmental impact
The ecological impact of small-scale hydro is minimal; however the low-level environmental effects must be taken into consideration before construction begins. Stream water will be diverted away from a portion of the stream, and proper caution must be exercised to ensure there will be no damaging impact on the local ecology or civil infrastructure.

My Verdict

Micro hydro power is a very good source of clean alternative energy. It is a source of energy that is both efficient and reliable.These small hydropower systems should never pose any problems like wind turbines that noisily dot the countryside, or stack gas emissions coming from fossil fuel fired power plants. There won’t even be a vapor flume from a cooling tower. Any way you look at this form of hydropower, it comes up a winner. 
The only question here is what would happen to the surplus electricity that this mini-hydro power plant produce? I'm sure it would be feed to the grid, but then, will the consumer  feel the effect of this cheap energy source?


  1. Very good unbiased analysis of this. I have to agree with your verdict, overall it seems like the positives outweigh the negatives. There has to be some use for the excess of electricity.

  2. thanks for dropping by mate.
    yeah, I'm more concern of the excess of electricity as I am already paying a "System Loss" which constitute almost 4% of my bill. So, I want to know if the excess electricity that this mini-hydro power plant will feed to the grid is not loss otherwise I'll be paying more losses. It would certainly be a burden on the consumer while it's a gold mine to those who run this mini-hydro power plants.
    From the report, they said that a single mini-hydro power plant can produce at least 20k megawatts and can power at least 2,500 houses. This certainly is the reason why some investor already submitted their letter of intent to build a mini-hydro power plant for the cost of at least P 20 million. They know that they can capitalize on it.

  3. Oh wow that's a lot of power, it's no wonder people are racing to try to capitalize on them. If you have to end up paying more for losses then that will really be terrible, the consumers should at least have a say in it. Imagine if it went up to 10%, I'd be furious.

  4. the problem with most hydro powerplants is that they require a dam, which can be devastating to the environment. And in my opinion, Geothermal Power, as a renewable source of energy, remains the most practical. Just saying :)

  5. That's basically true on large hydro power plant. But this plan of the NIA won't require such as it will function as a ‘run-of-river’ system.

  6. setuju..,sistem ni sangat menjimatkan..

  7. Makasih for dropping by teman.

    ya, it really is ecomical lah. Isn't it a clever idea? with the right management, this will certainly a great help for the consuming public.

  8. My company is doing this alternator for gen set....
    We sold a lot to Indonesia, vietnam

  9. Dear Lawrence,
    This is over my head, but very, very interesting. I am amazed by what I just read. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  10. @SP, oh that's cool. And yeah, I also have read in the internet that Vietnam already using this mini-hydro power plant. I have yet to search abou Indonesia. I'm just wondering, if this technology is available for quite some time now, why Philippines is just starting to utilize this kind of energy source? This just shows that Philippines is lagging behind our ASEAN neighbors. sad...

  11. Hey Andy, I just have so much faith about this project that I have to blog it. I'll be closely watching for its implementation. There are so many brilliants plans of our government before that until now remains as press releases.

  12. Good post to spread the info to your country-mates, man. VGL in Malaysia 2012

  13. A well-presented article. And yes, building such structure will definitely benifit the farmers.

  14. We have a BIG one upriver - and there was all that talk about it collapsing and all of us downriver would be drowned and swept much so that many people started to buy houses elsewhere and moved away.

    It has started running now - nothing noticeable...except that we do not get floods anymore. Used to be very frequent, many times a year...everytime it rained.

  15. @ Tony Teh, thanks. I'll check your new post on VGL later mate.

    @papaleng, I just hope that it will be a well planned project so as not to interfere with the irrigation water going to the farm lands.

    @suituapui, well thats good news. I bet it's a blow to those skeptics who opposes the project.

  16. nice post look interesting power plants, btw im following

  17. Hi AguiLeon, thanks for the visit mate. I did drop by your site.

  18. i think this is a good way to generate electricity, environmentally friendly and hazardous-less.. though may not produce high power i think it's cost effective..

  19. definitely support this way of generating electricity and power.. i am having the same thought as you, hehe :)

  20. @SK.... yeah, it really is a good idea, isn't it? I just hope that it will push thru.... this could really help alleviating power crisis in some parts of the country.
    but then again, I hope this won't be a source of gold mine for those corrupt official who will be implementing this project

  21. Great writeup. Sounds like better times ahead for the area.

    Hi Lawrence,thanks for stopping by. My, my, you were up early this morning. Beat me at SK's by seconds? LOL

  22. Hi Happy Surfer, I hope this could bring a really good result.

    it's my first time to be the first to comment. lol...

  23. Huh. Yeah, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

  24. hey Nathan, nice to see you here. thanks for dropping by.

  25. that is a very bright idea...for the far flung energy source is music to my ears..

  26. yeah, it is a bright idea cLai, I hope they could also invent an idea to be put that kind of technology in our drainage system. lol

  27. Its a very cheaper source of electricity from the grossroot of the present Dam:i.e.have no need of new dam.It,s a very cheaper way for those countries which have a Canal,s system.We can get the electricity from Canal,s eleven months a year,and only one month Canals system stopped for repair and maintenance.I am also working on a project like this in Pakistan but unfortunately our present government is not interested in mine project saying its a micro generation,I accept it that its a micro generation at one point but keeping in view a huge network of Canal,s we can get lot of electricity from this system by using very old technology i.e.Pedal Wheel at every hump wall at Canal,s.You are true that lot of cheaper electricity can be produce from this system. Best wishes for you.For study mine research you can visit mine profile on face book, or visit youtube,cheaper source of electricity from canal by Mr fazal65,you can also look the moves of mine project here.Thanks.

  28. Thanks! Look for additional posts on this topic soon. Also like to admire the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog!
    Canal Repairs


  29. Very informative article.Thank you author for posting this kind of article .

    Both are really good,

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