How SHPPs are changing hydropower production

11 Января 2023
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You asked questions about the SHPP and we found the answers:

What is small hydropower?
Small hydropower includes damless hydropower plants (HPPs) with a capacity not exceeding 25 MW, and the capacity of a single hydro unit is less than 10 MW. However, there is no generally accepted international definition of hydroelectric power capacity - in small countries, classification of SHPPs includes plants with capacity from 2 MW to 10 MW, and in Russia, Canada and other countries with large territories - up to 30 MW.

Why do we talk about SHPPs so frequently?
Hydropower refers to renewable energy sources, which is currently one of the most necessary and environmentally important issues in the industry. In Russia, SHPPs can be a solution to the problem of logistics and uninterrupted power supply in decentralized areas. There is also the problem of long distribution networks for supplying electricity to non-urbanized areas of the country, which leads to energy losses and a deterioration in the quality of the energy consumed.

What are the advantages of SHPPs?

  • from an environmental point of view SHPP not only produces no waste, but also does not violate the ecosystem
  • periods of commissioning are shorter than those of conventional HPPs
  • no need for large water reservoirs and artificial changes in landscape
  • quality of utilized water does not drop and can be used for agricultural purposes and water supply
  • unlike solar and wind power plants, SHPPs are more stable
  •  economic and social stability in settlements, which are not connected to the integrated energy system up to now.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • Insufficient knowledge of hydrological regimes and flows of small waters
  • Cost of technological service is less, than in case of ordinary hydropower plants, but construction cost is much higher
  • High cost of power connection in connection with remoteness from power lines
  • not all decentralized communities are located close to rivers suitable for SHPPs

What are the prospects for SHPPs?
Many long-term projects and plans for RES include the development and study of all aspects of SHPPs, as such plants have a great potential in Russia. However, the main government funding goes to fossil fuel plants, so less time and resources are spent on SHPPs than, for example, on solar and wind plants. RusHydro has repeatedly analyzed such plants in order to increase quotas for small plant projects and hybrid power complexes.

It is estimated that the energy potential of small hydropower in Russia exceeds the potential of such renewable energy sources as wind, solar, and biomass combined. However, Russia, while possessing such enormous potential, currently lags far behind other countries in using this resource for a number of reasons.

Using the energy of small water streams with the help of SHPPs is an effective and long-term alternative energy trend, as well as a solution to the problems of energy supply in many regions of the country.