As big dams are not finding much takers in the Northeast, States have now turned to micro-hydel power projects ones that generate 5-100 KW electricity using the natural flow of water to generate power. Kamal Chandra Saikia, the founder-managing director of the Assam Micro Hydel Power Project Ltd, is taking the technology a step further with his Microlight Propeller Hydro Turbine.
The retired senior engineer from the irrigation division of the Government of Assam has designed a turbine that works well in low-flowing rivers, characteristic of Assam. The ones generally used in micro hydel projects work only in high-flowing rivers. But Saikia’s small turbine can generate 6-8 KW of power from low-flowing rivers as it has a static head of just one metre in height. The innovation is not only suited to the rivers of Assam, it’s also cost-effective. Electricity produced using the turbine costs Rs 4-4.5 per unit as against Rs 8 per unit using traditional turbines.
Saikia’s turbine put to test
Saikia’s innovation was first put to test in 2004. Today, the extremely lightweight prototype is ready for installation. It will remove the region’s dependence on agencies like the National Thermal Power Corporation, the North-Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation and coal-based thermal units.
The Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) has entered into an agreement with Saikia’s company under which the electricity his project generates will power a model village with over 50 houses.
Saikia’s hydro turbine was to be installed at Jankhona, the source of the river Bhogdoi (a tributary of the Brahmaputra) in Jorhat district, in the first week of June this year. A survey was done and the location for the installation on the river was identified. However, it was delayed due to financial constraints.
Funds for the project
The President of India had sanctioned Rs 10 lakh for the project in 2014. A further assistance of Rs 1.25 lakh was granted by the ministry of new and renewable energy in 2015 for the installation of the project. Using these funds, Saikia developed a commercial model of the turbine, but is still Rs 80,000 short to see the project through.
Once the pilot project at Jankhona is carried out successfully, Saikia’s company plans to install 50 propeller turbines, each with 100 KW power generation capacity, on three rivers — Soraipani, Disoi and Jankhona (the name of a region as well as a river). Together, they will generate 5 MW power.