Prospects of Low Head Hydropower in Bangladesh a Case Study

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1.0 Introduction:

Electricity is one of the most important energy resources for modern development. But due to the high cost production as well as the high cost of establishment of national grid, the third world country like Bangladesh can not provide electricity to all over the country. Due to the above causes the supply of electricity, i.e, national grid, covers only a few areas, especially the urban and suburban regions where only 20% of the total population of Bangladesh live (BBS, 2004) [Ref.1]. So, the maximum portion of the population who lives in the rural area is not getting the advantages of using electricity. It is a matter of appreciation that Rural Electrification Board has taken initiatives to provide electricity for advantages less rural people since 1977, but yet to provide the facility for the people who are living in suburban region. Hydro electric power, whereby a difference in water level is used to extract power, is well established technology. Most hydroelectric power comes from the potential energy of dammed water driving a water turbine and generator. In this case the energy extracted from the water depends on the volume and on the difference in height between the source and the waters outflow. This height difference is called the head. The amount of potential energy in water is proportional to the head. However, it is generally only considered for locations where there is more than 10m of head. In low head situations, the low velocity implies the need for large flow rates and hence large machines to recover a modest amount of power. Hydro power is an eco-friendly clean power generation method. Unfortunately, the scope of hydro power generation is very limited in Bangladesh because of its plain lands with exceptions in some hilly regions in the northeast and southeast parts of the country. The lone hydropower plant of the country is located at Kaptai of Chittagong Hill Tracts With an installed capacity of 230 MW. In 1981 the Water Development Board and Power Development Board [Ref.2] carried out a study on the assessment of Small/Mini hydropower potential in the country. It identified 12 potential rivers/charas with an estimated annual production of 1.1 GWh in Chittagong Bandarban area, 6.3 GWh in Sylhet and Moulavi Bazar area, 8.6 MWh in Mymensing-Sherpur area and 1.8 GWh in the Dinajpur-Rangpur area. Recently LGED [Ref.3] has taken up a project at Bamer chara in Bashkhali of Chittagong District and BCSIR [Ref.4] in Sailopropat, Bandarban and in Madhobkundu, Moulovibazar.The BCSIR has estimated that these two sites have the potential for annual energy production of 43.8 MWh and 1.3 GWh respectively. Tidal power is not a new concept and has been used in Britain and France since at least the 11th century for milling grains. Ocean cover over 70% of the earth surface & the energy contained in waves & tidal movements is enormous. It has been estimated that if less than 0.1% of the renewable energy available within the oceans could be converted into electrical it would satisfy the present world demand for energy more than five times over (Wavegen, 1999). However, tidal power remains well bellow its potential in terms of application. Presently, tidal plants exists only in France since 1967 (La Rance), Canada since 1984 (Annapolis Royal). Many tidal projects one being considered today including the seven projects in England. Derby Hydro power of Western Australia: (48 MW); Corova , South coast of Alaska; Southern portion of Chile; Gujarat ; India: (1000 MW); Mexico: (500 MW); the Philippines: (2200 MW) and China: (20000 MW) (Tidal Electric Inc. 1999; Green Energy,1999;ACRE,1999). The usual technique in harnessing the tide is to dam a tidally-affected estuary or inlet, allowing the incoming tide to enter the inlet unimpeded and using the impounded water to generate power. The main barriers to uptake of the technology are environmental...
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