Determining Feasibility of Small-Scale Hydropower

by David C. Willer, (F.ASCE), Vice Pres.; Hydro Planning and Development, Tudor Engrg. Co., San Francisco, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Energy Division, 1981, Vol. 107, Issue 2, Pg. 209-217

Document Type: Journal Paper


The key consideration relating to the development of small-scale hydropower is its economic feasibility. Factors which affect the economic feasibility include physical features such as head and flow of water, the capital cost of the physical features of the project, the cost of the connection to the transmission grid, the interest rate and repayment period for borrowed capital, the present and/or future value of equivalent generation from alternative energy sources. Since often the economic factors cannot be determined definitely during the feasibility study stage of the project, procedures are provided to test the sensitivity of the variables. These procedures need to be presented in such a manner that non-technical decision makers, who provide final approval to proceed with projects, can understand and assess the risk of proceeding.

Subject Headings: Economic factors | Feasibility studies | Hydro power | Assets | Construction costs | Head (fluid mechanics) | Water flow | Power transmission

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