Micro Hydro Systems work?

Hydro power is an old established method of energy production.

Water is captured via a filter / intake structure and passes downhill in a pipeline to the turbine. The water exits the pipe under pressure through a nozzle and strikes a water wheel (runner). The force of which spins the runner which is direct coupled to an electricity generating permanent magnet alternator or enhanced performance induction generator. The electricity is then electronically regulated and transmitted via cable for use.


How much energy can be produced?

This depends on the water pressure and volume available. Pressure is measured in terms of “head”. Head is the vertical distance, in meters, from the water take-off point to the turbine. The volume is measured as “flow” in litres per second. Once accurate head and flow figures are available potential energy can be calculated. Accurate site evaluations and system design are just some of the services available to you.

How much of the creek flow should be used?

Generally speaking less than 50% of the flow at the driest time of year. This will allow water for the fish, other creatures and the environment.

What are some of the things I should look for in a Hydro site?

The greatest fall over the shortest route. It is easier and cheaper to transmit electricity than to pipe water. A micro hydro can be situated up to 2km from the facility it is supplying. However when systems are designed this distance is kept as short as possible.

A permanent water supply is needed and a turbine site that is above high water. Also look at the terrain, to choose the best route and method of running the pipe.

The higher the flow that is available the less head is needed to produce a given amount of power, and vice versa. See performance curves for figures.

Does Micro Hydro offer value for money?

Micro hydro is the most cost-effective way of generating electricity where there is a reliable supply of water. Maintenance is minimal and there are no fuel costs. Electricity is generated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The average hydro electric generator costs only one-tenth as much as a solar system of equivalent output.

Each site is different so civil works and pipe costs vary tremendously. For turbine prices see 240 V AC and Battery Charging pages. The return on your investment is determined by how much your electricity is costing at present, including fuel, fuel transport costs, maintenance, reliability, capital investment in equipment and running costs.

Our technically advanced equipment offers quality and performance with simplicity and reliability.

Can old systems be upgraded?

This equipment is ideal for upgrading old or abandoned micro hydro sites. Obsolete, complicated regulators using multiple dump loads and synchronous generators have caused many equipment failures in the past. The modern IEESR2 regulators (with single dump load resistance) in combination with the hardy Platypus enhanced performance induction generators have superseded this old technology. They offer far superior reliability and life.

What is the difference between AC and DC units?

DC units are generally smaller and are used where the combination of head and/or flow aren’t sufficient to use an AC unit. They produce a smaller amount electricity than AC systems but it is collected and stored in batteries.

AC micro hydro systems have no storage (batteries). They have to produce as much power as you intend to use at any one time. If you start a motor eg. in a fridge or pump, you may for example need 10,000 watts for a split second. After starting, the motor requires only a fraction of this power to run eg. 1,000 watts. Your AC system must be sized so that it will start your peak electrical loads at any time. If the power is not required it is dumped by the governor as heat.

With DC systems energy is accumulated 24 hours a day and stored in the batteries. Energy is only dumped when the batteries are fully charged. When a lot of energy is needed the extra electricity is drawn from the batteries.

What type of system should I use?

Quite often your system options are determined by your site. Site evaluation is the first step. Another factors is electrical load. AC systems have the ability to supply much larger loads than DC units. There is usually a larger investment in the pipeline for AC systems but this is offset by the fact that no inverter or batteries are required.

How much power do we need?

This is an individual question. A load analysis will determine this. The “typical” Australia household requires between 250 to 350 watts continuous from a DC system or 1500 watt from a direct 240 volt AC system.

This will run all appliances and lights in an average household, including a fridge and washing machine. Stoves and hot water are usually powered by gas, wood or solar hot water systems, unless more electricity is available.

What are some of the advantages of this equipment?

In brief the technology developed in the last 20 years allows simplification and size reduction along with a corresponding cost reduction. See product information for more comprehensive information on turbine and governor features, including

  • use of a single resistive dump load for three and single phase
  • use of enhanced performance induction generators
  • proven electronic regulators
    . Other areas of progress include
  • reliable filter designs
  • availability of large diameter long lasting poly pipe eg. 125 mm poly in 70 m rolls.Hydro equipment is designed to run continuously for years before maintenance is required. Attention to detail during installation of the pipeline, turbine and axillary equipment are key area to ensure reliability along with proper water filtering.

About Platypus Power

Platypus Power manufacture quality micro hydro electric turbines and control equipment that provide renewable, reliable and cost effective electricity in remote locations. Our systems supply homes, farms, villages, tourist resorts, telemetering sites etc, in rural areas not served by grid electricity. Platypus Power also offer a site evaluation and system design service.

Platypus Power specialise in Micro Hydro design and manufacture. They have turbines across Australia, in New Guinea, New Zealand, Vanuatu, and Zimbabwe. The company has full accreditation for design and installation of remote area power systems from the Solar Energy Industries Association of Australia (SEIAA).

What size turbines do they manufacture?

A range of off the shelf units are available from small DC battery charging turbines to 20 kWatt AC models. Above this size site specific turbines are manufactured .

How do I get more information?

  • Just E-mail us.
  • Indicate if you require information on how to do a preliminary evaluation of your site.
  • Would you like to know our nearest approved agent who will be able to conduct an accurate site assessment and system design.
  • Send us your site measurements. Head, flow, pipeline length, transmission distance and electrical load (if possible) Along with any additional information you have. From this we can calculate the potential power at your site.