by Arthur Williams
Journal section: General Article
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In communities with no access to electricity, lighting is provided by kerosene lamps, torches or candles, all of which give poor quality light at relatively high cost. Lighting is usually the primary use of electricity, when it does become available, but the cost will depend on the technology used. Traditional waterpower technology has often been used in remote communities for small scale processing of agricultural produce. Pico hydropower adapts this technology to meet modern requirements for electricity and mechanical power. Through recent developments pico hydro has become even more cost-effective for rural electrification. There is already widespread use of this technology in Nepal and significant potential in many other countries.
Pico hydro usually refers to schemes of up to 5 kW output. The available power is related to the water flow rate and the available head between intake and power house. Where only low heads are available (less than 10 m) the flow rate must be greater to compensate for the lower water pressure and the cost of pico hydro tends to be slightly greater. There are a number of different approaches to implementing pico hydro, but those that are cost-effective rely on the use of standardised equipment. In some cases schemes supply only one household, while in others a whole community may be served.
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