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Small hydro-power plants the way to go

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th November 2011 06:14 PM

THE demand for hydro-power has been fast-growing in the last decade as developing nations move to harness their resources. Hydro-power has a powerful contribution towards regional cooperation and development.

THE demand for hydro-power has been fast-growing in the last decade as developing nations move to harness their resources. Hydro-power has a powerful contribution towards regional cooperation and development.

By Frank Kweronda

THE demand for hydro-power has been fast-growing in the last decade as developing nations move to harness their resources. Hydro-power has a powerful contribution towards regional cooperation and development.  

Its renewable energy plays a unique role in mitigating climate change by displacing fossil energy and supporting storage capacity of dams. This in turn provides for flood control, as well as water security for countries under threat of floods and drought.

With the current load shedding in the country, many businesses are continuing to stall and the productivity is becoming low. 

We should implement something that will involve less costs. It is high time we distanced ourselves from the expensive, unreliable thermal sources of power.

Electricity is a major requirement for the modern era and its demand is very high for industrial development and domestic use.

Uganda, as a developing country, continues to be one of the states where hydro-power will play a great role in the future. In economic development, hydro-power boosts industries and energy exports. 

Hydro-potential is the backbone to future social and economic development. In total hydro-power potential is estimated to be over 2000 megawatts especially along the River Nile.

It should be noted, however, that Lake Victoria being the largest reservoir in Africa and at the same time the source of the White Nile, sooner or later, will be limited in terms of hydropower development. Reason being that the Nile is a trans-boundary river with many countries having a lot of interest in it.

Since we still have a lot of small hydropower potential on our small rivers within the country, we should change the strategy and start investing in small and mini-hydro power. One small hydropower system of 13 megawatts, is capable of reducing load shedding of at least two districts in a region, if connected to the national grid.

The investment cost for small hydro-power is not much compared to large hydro-power which may require a lot of money, especially from development partners and banks.

Small hydropower  plants can be run by private investors who would control the distribution of power. 

These private investors would agree with the Government on how to operate the system for a number of years before handing it back to the Government. This is what we call a design build operate and transfer system’. 

So far, more than 50 mini hydropower sites with a potential of 250 megawatts have been identified through various studies in Uganda.

Currently, small hydro-power plants account for a small percentage of electricity generation capacity. 

To improve on the hydro-power sector and to reduce on the power rationing, small hydro-power projects should be encouraged on small rivers within the country.

The writer is a civil engineer

Small hydro-power plants the way to go

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