The Government has been taking several steps over the year to realize the the potential to generate 20,000 MW of power from small hydro power projects alongside rivers and irrigation canals.
The Ministry of New and Renewal Energy (MNRE), which is the nodal agency for promoting small hydro power projects, has aimed to harness at least 50 percent of the potential in the next 10 years. The present installed capacity is about 4,500 MW.
A major roadblock in converting the potential to reality has been in terms of testing of the hydro turbines that generate the electricity. They can be tested for their efficiency in real conditions only after they are installed and even then not only the results are not accurate enough but also no improvements can be done once the machine is installed.
Consequently, the tests are conducted on scaled models but to over come this roadblock the Ministry has set up a dedicated fully automatic SCADA-based hydraulic turbine research and development laboratory at the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre (AHEC) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.
Set up at the cost of Rs. 40 crore, the laboratory will act as a design and validation facility and also conduct research on hydro turbines and other hydro mechanical equipment conforming to national and international standards.
It has the capability to conduct tests on scaled models of hydraulic turbines for various technical parameters such cavitation performance, pressure pulsation and runaway speed, characteristic curves for the turbine quadrant, hydraulic thrust and torque. The laboratory is equipped with state of the art SCADA based automatic control system with first principal based flow measurement, precision pressure transducers and sensors.
It has obtained accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL) as per ISO/IEC standards for fluid flow testing and calibration.
The turbine model testing facility shall be a step for make in India, being the first independent facility for turbine manufacturers and power producers