There has been continuous improvement with time in the small hydro technology. The equipments used in SHP projects are now more efficient, reliable and automatic. The mechanical governing system have been replaced by electronic governors, the analogue controls has been replaced by the digital one and the projects are now completely automatic from start to gird synchronization. The concept of remotely operating projects and SCADA systems have been introduced. The focus of R&D efforts is to improve reliability of equipment, reduction in cost and optimizing generation. Apart from improvement in equipment designs, need to improve/standardize civil design and hydraulic structures has been strongly felt with a view to reduce construction time. Attention is now being paid on the development of efficient desilting structures, self cleaning of water in-take, trash racks etc. Following areas of for future research have been identified.
Civil Engineering Works
Development of software that allow a fast and efficient civil work design
Development of standardised hydraulic structures
Development of efficient desilters with high head intakes, of self-cleaning water intakes, and of trashracks.
Guide on the design of power houses layout and structure
Adaptation of high pole permanent magnet excitation generators to small hydro
Development of low speed generators (direct-drive low-speed generators for low heads)
Development of standardised control and monitoring hardware packages
Development of standardised control and monitoring software that can be easily customised for a site-specific use (graphical user interface, improved monitoring and data analysis, etc.)
Development of submersible turbo-generators
Development of compact equipment which require the laying of few, if any cofferdams.
Development of appropriate turbines design suitable to electrical output below 1MW (according to simplicity, reliability, operational and performance guarantees criteria)
Development of variable-speed operation (Optimal use of low and variable heads sites)
Development of screening systems for downstream and upstream migrating aquatic life.
Development of plant performance tests for existing small hydropower plants.
Flexible small hydro turbines for very low head (<2.5 m).