Procedure for the establishment of a small-hydro project

The objective here is to synthesize into three steps the various procedures that the designer (public or private) has to go through in order to succeed in a small-hydro project.
We first of all strongly recommend measuring discharges as regularly as possible, at least once a week or, ideally, continuously, and to have a surveyor measure up- and downstream altitudes. A simple method of measuring discharges is that of weirs. In order to know more.

1. Preliminary study or preliminary draft project

This first study consists in setting up a first technical, economic, and environmental appraisal of the site, in order to determine whether it is worth while to go any further.
Specifically, this study which includes a site visit, results in a report of about ten pages which presents the site’s average and maximum power, energy production, an estimate of investments and of the cost-price of one KWh produced.
Mhylab can perform such a study within a few weeks after the bases of the study have been gathered.
Subsidies for sites in Switzerland can be obtained from Suisseénergie or from the State energy services.
At this address, you can also find information on the objectives of the study and on the sum of the subsidies.

2. Detailed feasibility study, or draft project

This second step is a detailed study of the subjects treated in the preliminary project in order to specify:.

  • Flow-duration curves
  • Optimal equipment discharge for the site, possibly with several variants
  • For the specific site, the turbine(s) that present(s) the best compromise between production, investments, and integration into the local environment
  • Dimensions of the turbine(s)
  • The optimal diameter of the penstock, or, if it already exists, calculation of its head losses
  • Civil engineering works
  • Connection to the grid
  • Investments
  • Cost-price of a KWh

This type of study includes at least 1 site visit. It results in a report of about 30 pages associated to preliminary plans of the facility.
The draft project consists in the detailed development of the solution selected through the feasibility study. It is in general one of the necessary documents when a water concession is requested, and when the project is put in public enquiry
Mhylab can also submit a proposal for that phase, in cooperation either with the partner firms in charge of civil engineering aspects, or with any firm selected by the customer.

3. Implementation Project

This final step aims to:

  • establish specifications for the equipments and the works
  • request tenders from materials suppliers, and civil-engineering firms
  • perform tender analyses, and suggest contract awards
  • have the final plans of the facilities executed by the selected firms, according to their tenders
  • build the plant: construction management, site supervision, etc.
  • have the equipments installed in the plant
  • commission the Plant

Mhylab can act at two levels within a project:

  • either as consultant for the equipments in the steps of specifications writing, tenders analysis, construction management, monitoring commissioning, etc.
  • or as supplier of the turbine’s hydraulic profile.


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