Japanese company Toshiba has developed a standard micro hydropower unit that can generate power from a head as low as 2m. The system can utilise river or irrigation water and is aimed at remote communities.

Hydro turbines are normally designed for a specific site but this can prove expensive for mini and micro hydro projects where standardised units make more economic sense. The new unit is designed to operate with a head of 2-15m and the power output is from 5 kW to 100 kW.

The turbine has been designed within a pipe in a ‘through’ configuration which can be inserted into a flow system and then requires no more than bolting to a concrete foundation. Power generation can commence within a day.

A 50 kW package weighs around one tonne and can be transported by compact truck. Toshiba claims that it requires only half the space of more conventional counterparts and that it costs only half as much as these units. It can be utilised for both rural and commercial generation, the company suggests.