Techno-economic evaluation of a micro-hydropower plant for rural electrification in South Africa
International Review on Modelling and Simulations
Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa; Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
This study investigated the techno-economic viability of micro-hydropower generation in the electrification of a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The proposed scheme is composed of a squirrel cage induction machine running as a generator and directly coupled to a Kaplan hydro-turbine. Mathematical models were developed and simulations performed using MATLAB/SIMULINK software to highlight the characteristics of the output power supplied to consumers for varying water flow rate. A small-scale experimental model based on a DC machine as a turbine driving a self-excited induction generator was developed to validate the designed model. Economic and environment analyses were performed using HOMER software to assess the possibility of using the proposed stand-alone micro-hydropower system for low-cost electricity production and supply for the specific site. The MATLAB/SIMULINK model developed and the laboratory experiments demonstrated the technical viability of using a Kaplan turbine and a self-excited induction generator in micro-hydropower generation. The economic and environmental results highlight the cost-effectiveness character and the reduction of gas pollutant emissions achieved by the plant. The micro-hydropower plant is a technically and economically viable and environmentally friendly means for rural electrification. © 2011 Praise Worthy Prize S.r.l. - All rights reserved.