Micro Hydroelectric Cost info

Articles on cost:

From Micro-hydro power: an option for socio-economic development paper

Rio Aguila — runs across center of SG property

In the examples examined in the five countries, the capital cost of micro hydro ranges from US$ 655 in Nepal to US$5,630 per installed kilowatt, in constant 1998 prices.

An important conclusion is therefore that the costs per installed kilowatt are higher than the figures usually cited in the literature. This is partly due to the difficulty analysts have in establishing full costs on a genuinely comparative basis. A significant part of micro hydro costs can be met with difficult-to-value labour provided by the local community as “sweat equity”; meaningful dollar values for local costs are difficult to establish when they are inflating and rapidly depreciating relative to hard currencies; and there is little consistency in defining the boundaries of the systems being compared (for instance, how much of the distribution cost, or house wiring, is included, how much of the cost of the civil works contribute to water management and irrigation).

But more fundamentally the comparison of actual costs at the ‘micro’ level of individual plants (as indeed of any de-centralised energy supply systems) can also be misleading. Successful programmes require investments in the systems necessary for training, repair, marketing. The critical issue is that these tasks exhibit substantial economies of scale, in that the cost per micro hydro plant installed falls as the number of plant increases. Comparisons based on average costs will therefore be strongly influenced by the number of plant built.

Estimates of these ‘macro’ costs associated with developing and supporting a programme – sometimes referred to as “system overhead costs”5 are also difficult to establish, particularly as many of the costs associated with Research and Development and the training of engineering workshops are “sunk costs” which took place over many years.

PICO HYDRO FOR VILLAGE POWER  Includes some basic ‘how to think it’ info and check lists. Quote:

“If no other data is available, $3000/kW can be used as a conservative figure for the total capital cost of a pico hydro scheme (< 5 kW), excluding house wiring, building work and distribution poles.”

To calculate demand vs supply click here.

Micro Hydro Costs in UK A contrasting opinion. This gives costs in the UK, a lot higher than in developing countries. Downloaded from here.

Low head

High head




60 – 120

30 – 60

Civil works

30 – 100

30 – 80

Electrical works (no grid connection)

15 – 30

15 – 30

External costs

10 – 30

10 – 30


115 – 280

85 – 200

Email received 11/17/2012 from Jochem Sassen at Arconsult. S.A.:

“Solar energy – in Costa Rica – you pay +/- 3.6 US $ / W  (Watt) to electrify a house. …

Hydro energy – For a small unit up to 60 – 70 kW you have to calculate 2200 to 2500 US $ / kW installed (complete intake / pipe / Power house / elec-mech unit / erection / putting it in service)”

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