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The Development Trend Of Small Hydropower And The Current Situation In Turkey

November 30, 2020

Alternative energy resources have been the focus of global interest in order to identify sustainable energy sources for the last 20 to 30 years. Alternative energy sources based on wind, solar, hydro power and biomass, etc are considered to be renewable and a climate change solution. With increasing awareness for global warming, renewable resources received special attention in the developed countries during the last few decades and recently in many other countries. Being considered to be the pioneering renewable energy source hydroelectric power is an efficient and reliable technology among other renewable energy systems. Presently, small hydro turbines are considered one of the most promising rural electrification systems on the market. Ongoing trends in supply electricity demand with renewable sources are moving away from traditional large-scale power generation plants to small local generators (kW's to MW's) sited directly local consumers, hence major untapped hydropower capacity in the micro hydropower range are growing in demand worldwide.


Consequently, the Turkish government passed legislation allowing private investors to construct and operate hydroelectric power plants starting early 2000s, aiming to increase utilization of large micro-hydro power potential, and conforming the principle of "generate your own electricity" by using local water resources. Currently, over 2000 small hydro electric power plants are under construction. Private investors mainly target water resources ranging in the 1-30 MW range. Additionally, even if total hydro capacity of the country beyond 1MW is realized; there will be an unharnessed 30-40 % capacity scattered in small creeks and streams.


To take advantage of these sources, there is an emerging need for research in the development of micro-hydro systems as well as further status of micro-hydro power use in Turkey. Thus, a micro-hydro plant test system was established recently at GIT which aims to determine characterizations of new design micro-hydro turbines in the power range of 1kW to 100kW, and to provide specific technical information about plant management and operation, including interconnection of local or distributed generators to the utility grid at low voltage level.


This paper presents the hardware structure and functionality of micro-hydro plant test system at GIT.Summary of the work on the operation of two AC generators (asynchronous and synchronous) in grid connected operation in a lab. environment is also presented. Presently, a very low cost cross flow micro turbine coupled to a self exciting synchronous generator is currently under test in terms of performance evaluation and turbine governor control achievement. Consequently, a stand-alone operation test of the generator will be performed with passive load. These results will be presented in revised version of this manuscript.

A. Potential and government policy in Turkey Presently, Turkish electricity energy demand is rapidly increasing due to increasing social and economic developments. Foreign energy input share of total electricity generation for the country is very high. Thus, State Planning Organization (DPT) is supporting the public electricity grid, promoting renewable energy projects to increase the security of sustainable energy supplies and to provide technical information related to alternative renewable
energy generation and facilitating cooperation between project and private sector investment.

In light of official reports, prediction of Turkey’s long term electric energy demands, both the technical and economical feasibility of hydro potential were evaluated in several recent studies. The evaluation results show that Turkey’s hydro power capacity is significant as a cost effective sustainable energy resource and estimated hydropower potential according to three different scenarios evaluated by General Directorate of State Hydraulics Works (DSI) can meet nearly 33 %, 38 % and 46 % of Turkey’s total electric energy demand in 2020. In hydro power potential, small hydro power sources have been found significant by DPT. Based on this prediction it is claimed that Turkey will provide significant part of its domestic electric energy demand from its own hydro power resources.


The main developments in Turkey came in 2005 with the passing of the Renewable Energy Law 5346 a policy which aimed to encourage investment in renewable technologies by guaranteeing projects a seven-year (amended to 10 years by Energy Productivity Law 5627). Renewable projects were also offered an 85% discount on the purchase of government land and priority connection to the transmission grid. An important distinction for investors was that the law defined river- or canal-type projects in three categories i) less than 50 MW, or a hydropower plant with a reservoir volume of less than ii) 100 million square meters or iii) a surface area of less than 15 km 2, as a renewable project. Larger hydropower projects were not eligible for the benefits offered by law 5627.

On the other hand ongoing trends with small distributed generation resources such as photovoltaic (PV), heat and power, micro hydro power or others types of generators are leading to new technical requirements for operation and energy management. Therefore, new regulations and guidelines are needed to determine utilization of distributed generation system. These new regulations were declared without common concern by governments such as Japan, some European and other countries. However this issue is currently on the Turkish government agenda, but studies are at present incomplete and regulations are undeclared by official authorities. Hence, new research and development regarding to evaluation of technical guide lines are essential in order to utilize renewable energy resources.

B. Micro Hydro Power
Hydro-turbines convert water pressure into mechanical shaft power which can be used to rotate generators to produce electricity. The power on the turbine shaft is proportional to the product of pressure head and water discharge. Although micro hydro turbines are currently sold for a variety of both commercial and domestic uses; but still there is much need for cost effective small sized (under 500kw) hydro turbines for increasing and facilitating the utilization of micro hydro potential by the suppliers and consumer societies located near the sites that are suitable for own electricity generation. Difficulties encountered in developing micro hydro systems depend on the following three factors: i) site location i.e. access due to remote locations, ii) investment costs i.e. depending on site specific location and equipment requirements and finally iii) human resources i.e. limited in rural areas for plant management and ongoing operation. The main advantages are expected to be reduced maintenance costs and the option of remote control of power production.


Another issue is that to date, there is not an official internationally agreed definition of ‘small’, “mini” and micro hydro power ranges; however, there are alternative suggestions for distributed generation. In Turkey, the upper limit is accepted as 50 MW for small hydro power systems and Turbines up to 200 kW (micro turbines). One alternative suggestion for definition of hydro power ranges is as follows:

Large-hydro More than 100 MW feeding into a large electricity grid
Small-hydro: Between 1-15 MW usually feeding into the grid
Mini-hydro: Above 100 kW, but below 1 MW either stand alone schemes usually feeding into the grid
Micro-hydro: Between 5-100kW, usually providing power for a small community or remote industrial areas away from the grid.
Pico-hydro: From a few hundred watts up to 5kW for remote areas away from the grid.