Evaluating off-grid hydro energy systems in irregular channel flow for intensive agriculture in developing countries

Off-grid hydroelectric systems can fill a valuable niche for energy supply in rural areas of developing countries. While small hydro systems that harness potential energy through water flow are a mature technology, in-stream systems (that use hydrokinetic energy in open water channels) are still in their infancy and have not proliferated on a large scale. In South Asia, where there are large-scale irrigation networks, there is great potential for hydrokinetic electric power generation to provide high marginal impact.

This project will develop a quantitative, analytical framework for modeling hydrokinetic potential at the distributary and canal command scales that accounts for irregular flow and unique load profiles for agricultural and rural applications. We will apply this multi-scale framework to the case of irrigation canals in the Punjab and other canal irrigated areas of South Asia. The general analytical framework and the specific regional focus collectively advance a rigorous approach for studying in-stream energy generation and its use for water management in intensive agriculture.