THIS is propos the article ‘Developing hydropower: potential, risks and constraints’ (Feb 18) by Engr Hussain Ahmad Siddiqui. The writer has precisely pointed out the importance of this clean and renewable energy resource and its bountiful potential in our country.
He has also listed the ongoing projects in different regions of the country, which is a positive step towards minimising the energy crisis.
According to the writer, these large hydropower projects pose numerous technical and economic challenges despite their benefits.
Factors such as extreme weather conditions, non-availability of labour, housing, open land for projects, environmental issues and resettlement of population, high capital cost and long gestation period make such projects non-viable and difficult to execute.
In such a scenario, I would like to draw attention to the importance of micro- and mini-hydropower projects which obviate the need of substantial investment, technical assessment and other prerequisites associated with large hydropower projects.
These projects are highly feasible even in far-flung and high-altitude areas due limited requirement of space, investment, technology and less completion period without causing any damage to environment and causing resettlement of the population.
Moreover, this technology does not require detailed studies of topography, hydrology, and site geology but can be designed and manufactured locally without a foreign investor and technical team. These projects are found to be more sustainable and can be maintained by the local community.
The development of these small projects can add an estimated amount of 22,000 MW to the energy-mix of the country.
Despite its high feasibility and potential in northern and high-altitude areas, where Pelton and cross flow turbines can be installed, such projects can also be executed in southern parts of the country where low-head Kaplan turbines can be installed to tap the potential of flowing canals without compromising the irrigation need.
It is time this precious energy resource was utilised without waiting for foreign donors and investment and relying on foreign technology.