Hydropower plant built in an off-grid community in Peru

**For updates on the vortex hydropower plant and other projects, see our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kadagayaproject/**

The Kadagaya project is investigating the transition to a new social system called a resource-based economy (RBE). We are building a self-sufficient community in the jungle of Peru to demonstrate and evaluate the enabling technologies that will allow us to provide the basic needs of clean water, renewable energy, optimized nutrition, holistic education, sustainable housing and more. More information can be found on our website www.kadagaya.org.

This video briefly introduces the gravitational vortex hydroelectric plant built by the Kadagaya community. Some features and advantages of this relatively new technology are as follows:

• suitable for rivers with low head (1-5 m) and high flow
• does not require a large dam to be built
• has positive effects of the local ecosystem (aerating the water and allowing fish to flow in both directions)
• simple design with low investment and maintenance requirements
• can be constructed with manual labour and materials and technology available in developing countries
• a feasible clean energy solution for off-grid communities

The construction of the hydro plant took around 1.5 years. A large part of this time was spent excavating the channels and tank. This was done manually as the site was not accessible by machinery and we encountered many large river boulders and seasonal flooding that slowed work down.

A small dam and dyke were constructed on the edge of the river to feed the inlet channel. The entire hydroelectric plant is located inland to avoid problems with flooding during the wet season. An inlet gate controls the level of water (and hence the energy generated). An overflow channel just before the tank protects the electric system from flooding.

The spiral shape of the tank is optimised to achieve a strong vortex in the centre of the rotation tank. The water exits the tank through a small hole at the base of the vortex and flows out the exit channel, back into the river.

A vertical axis turbine sits within the core of the vortex. The axis of the turbine is attached to a gearbox that accelerates the slow rotation of the turbine into higher revolutions required by the generator. The generator (alternator) converts the rotational energy into electricity. We are using a 10 kW 3-phase (380 V) AC generator that generates around 7.5 kW. The voltage is regulated using control circuits and the electricity is carried via cables over a distance of 500 m to the house.

We plan to share our knowledge and experience of this project in more detail in the future (including technical and financial details). In the meantime, please contact us by email (kadgaya.adm@gmail.com) or leave a comment here with any questions.
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