::Micro Hydro Power Plants::


A mass of water moving down a height difference contains energy which can be harvested using some waterwheel or turbine. The moving water drives the waterwheel and this rotation either drives machinery directly (e.g. mill, pump, hammer, thresher) or is coupled with a generator which produces electric power.

Principle of Hydro Power


Hydro power is probably the first form of automated power production which is not human / animal driven. Moving a grind stone for milling first, developed into the driving of an electrical generator. Next to steam it was for long the main power source for electricity. Its continual availability does not require any power storage (unlike wind / solar power). It is mainly mechanical hardware. This makes it relative easy to understand and repair-/maintainable. In smaller units its environmental impact becomes neglect-able (see: environmental impact assessment and pros and cons of micro hydropower).

PCRET is not only the pioneering agency in introducing the Micro Hydro Power Technology in Pakistan but is the National Focal Point for the development and dissemination of renewable energy technologies in Pakistan, especially in the field of development and promotion of mini / micro hydro power plants in isolated / neglected areas of the country. It has been demonstrating and disseminating MHP Technology after indigenization, on micro level in the far-flung, inaccessible and remote hilly areas of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Gilgit – Baltistan, FATA and AJK since 1976. Over the past so many years PCRET has achieved sufficient experience in utilizing the high-head low-discharge perennial water falls for power generation. 

Focal Point Agency

In pursuance of Rural Electrification Programme of the Federal Govt. the major objective of the MHP Programme has therefore been rural electrification of the areas which are away from the national grid, and where restoration of ecological balance along with protection of environment is imperative.

Credit Performance 

The Council has so far successfully installed 538 decentralized MHP plants with consolidated installed power generation capacity of 8 MW. Out of 538 MHP plans, 152 plants have been installed through launching various PSDP schemes in the off-grid, far-flung and remote areas, while 280 MHP plants have been installed in collaboration with individuals / communities. Whereas 106 plants have been installed in collaboration with various GO’s NGO’s, VBO’s providing technical assistance and post-installation supervision. 

Salient Feature

 One of the remarkable features of PCRET’s MHP Programme is the Community participation in each phase of the project from initiation to implementation stage and subsequent operation and maintenance by forming co-operatives. The expenses incurred on the power distribution system are borne by the local communities / beneficiaries in addition to provision of land and labor for the installation of MHP plants. Moreover, power plants are operated and maintained by the communities themselves through establishment of Local Management Committees. There is therefore no recurring expenditure on the national exchequer. The committee fixes the tariff for the power use and arranges collection of bills. The money so collected is utilized for operation and maintenance of power plants. 

Future Prospects

In view of the tremendous success of PCRET’s MHP scheme a number of GO’s / NOG’s are approaching PCRET for provision of technical assistance to launch MHP Program in the areas where requisite potential exist. The Irrigation Departments Government of Punjab and Sindh intend to install MHP plants at their canal falls at different locations. 

 An experimental pilot project on canal fall has been successfully completed at a site in Mardan whereas another 200 Kw capacity plant is being installed at Khanpur Dam in collaboration with a private power generating party, under Public Private Cooperation Scheme of the Government.

 Moreover, in October 2005 the large earthquake affected area of AJK and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, where basic infrastructure of electricity, road, hospitals, shops and houses etc. was severely damaged called for immediate rehabilitation. PCRET to shoulder Government efforts for rehabilitation of mass destructed / devastated earthquake inaccessible areas of AJK and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa initiated a power project entitled “Provision of Electricity to Earthquake Effected Areas through Installation of 100 Micro Hydropower Plants” with aim behind to provide electricity to the needy.

Peshawar Regional Office of PCRET

Socio Economic Impacts

 A gradual change is visible after installation of MHP plants at the affected area. 

Ø  Less fuel consumption for lighting.

Ø  Increase in use of long-range cordless phones for communication.

Ø  Every house is equipped with T.V and Dish Satellite receiver. 

Ø  Schools / Colleges are equipped with Computer Labs.

Ø  Micro industry abundance to produce quality furniture and carving panels. 

Ø  Cottage industry viz-handy craft, sewing and embroidery on shawl and bedspreads are flourishing and the public living standard is also improved.

Ø  Opportunities of additional income sources enhanced.

LAB Peshawar Regional Office of PCRET

PCRET's Existing Hydropower Facilities

1.     China – Pakistan Joint Research Center for Small Hydropower at PCRET  Islamabad

This research center was established in PCRET Islamabad with the funding from People’s Republic of China in 2015 and has been certified as one of 14 laboratories along Belt and Road Initiative of China in 2019. It serves as the mainmulti-energy research facility of PCRET in fields of small hydropower particularly and Solar PV and Wind energy generally. It has simulation and data collection of up to 15kW hydropower, 2kW Solar PV and 3kW Wind Energy.

Over the last two years, more than 10 engineering graduates from different universities of Pakistan have completed their internship in this center and numerous visits of different departments have been conducted for technology awareness. Based on this research center PCRET has able to gain two more international projects for Pakistan in the field of small hydropower, one of them is currently in progress and hopefully another will be started in 2021.


2.   Hydropower Support Workshop Peshawar:

PCRET has a mechanical workshop facility at PCRET’s regional office Peshawar in which different machines i.e. Lathe Machines, Penstock Pipe Molding Machine, Hydraulic Press, Surface Grinder, 5mm Metallic Sheet Cutter, Turbine Balancing Machine and Generator Tester are available. Therefore, this workshop has provision of manufacturing metallic penstock pipes for hydropower plants, turbine blades, different metallic support structure etc also has provision of testing generators and turbines at the workshop before its installation on the site.

These machines were overhauled in 2018-19 and made functional except Turbine Balancing Machine and Generator Tester however they need proper maintenance and daily routine works needs to be done on them because machines are only alive if they are use daily if not they are dead. Due to shortage of manpower in PCRET 45% of technical strength of PCRET is vacant the machines cannot be properly operated.

PCRET’s Ongoing International Hydropower Projects


1.      China – Pakistan Joint R&D Center on Kay Technologies of Small Hydropower and Rural Electrification

Foreign Grant:                      CYN 6.4 million+ GoP Share

Time Line:                             2017 – 2021

Project Description:

The canals in Punjab has hydropower potential of 7500MW and more than 90% of its potential is untapped due to extreme low water head. Considering this obstacle of hydropower development in Punjab, PCRET in consultation with NRIRE-HRC China has evolve this project to propose a practical solution to cater the hydropower potential in Punjab. Therefore, thisproject has been focused toenhance the human resource development in the field of small hydropower by conducting joint research and training for the development of low head hydropower plants on the canal system in Punjab as per International Standards and to establish a demonstrative 100kW hydropower plant on a selected canal. To realize it, the following objectives will be achieved in this project with their current status is mentioned below:

Objectives and their Current Status:

  i.      Establishment of a 100kW hydropower plant on a canal in Punjab.

The feasibility study for the civil works has been finalized and the drawings for the E/M equipment has been prepared. The allocation of funds by Government of Punjab for the civil works is in progress.

      ii.            Hydropower Development Planning of a selected river/canal in Punjab.

The requisite data of a selected river/canal in Punjab has been shared with NRIRE/HRC for hydropower development planning.

    iii.            Up-gradation of China – Pakistan Joint Research Center for Small Hydropower at PCRET Islamabad.

This research center currently have multi-energy facility of 15kW hydropower, 2kW of Solar PV and 3kW of Wind Energy will be upgraded by adding another 5kW Solar PV and 5kW Wind Energy with 1kW of Wind Simulation Platform.

    iv.            Formulation of Small Hydropower Standards System for Pakistan.

In consultation with PSQCA, NRIRE-HRC China, International Center for Small Hydropower, and UNIDO the national standards for Small Hydropower will be evolved for Pakistan.

      v.            Addition of 10-15 Solar PV and Wind Energy on a selected hydropower plant for hybrid power generation.

Suitable Sites will be selected for the hybrid system of 10-15kW.

    vi.            Human Resource Development in Small Hydropower

A total of 10 trainings each of 6 months will be conducted in China. Among them four persons (2x PCRET, 2x ED Punjab) completed their training. Three (2x PCRET, 1x PSQCA) partially completed and three more trainings will be conducted in coming years.     

  vii.            International Seminar on Small Hydropower and Rural Electrification

It was held in Islamabad in 2020.

PCRET’s Under Consideration Hydropower Projects in Terms of Foreign Grants


1.      Joint Research on Small Hydropower Technology between China and Pakistan

Total Budget: Foreign GrantUSD 600,000 + Rs. 13 million as estimated GoP Share.

Time Line:                                   2021 – 2024

Project Description:

            As per globally accepted definition, Small Hydropower (SHP)is define as all run-of river hydropower plants having capacity not more than 30MW. SHP is increasingly recognized as an important renewable energy solution to the challenge of electrifying remote rural areas. However, while most countries in Europe, America, and China have high degrees of installed capacity, the potential of SHP in many developing countries including Pakistan remains untapped and is hindered by a number of factors including the lack of implementation of globally agreed standards for SHP development.Pakistan is termed as the third pole and have enormous potential of small hydropower which spread from North to South region. The small hydro potential of Pakistan is estimated to be more than 10,000MW and more than 90% potential is still untapped. The installed capacity of small hydropower in Pakistan is estimated to be around 800MW but most of them are not functioning to their actual potential. It is because of the lack of proper feasibility, poor designing, improper and low grade installation of electro-mechanical equipment, low grade construction, lack of proper management and sustainable schemes and most importantly lack of national level small hydropower standards system.

            Considering this obstacle in the small hydropower development and its sustainability in Pakistan, PCRET in consultation with NRIRE-HRC China has drafted this project with main focus on formulation, adoptability and establishment of national level small hydropower standard system for Pakistan as UNIDO’s Technical Guidelines for Small Hydropower with most of funding from Chinese side as grant. The objectives of the project is as follows:

·           Research on the standard framework system of small hydropower technology in South Asia.

·           Research on the mechanism of Small Hydropower talents cultivation in South Asia.

·           Joint Research on the centralized control technology for optimal operation of multiple Small Hydropower stations in Pakistan.

·           Joint research on the technology of Small Hydropower oriented off-grid multi-energy complementary power generation.

·           Trial production and demonstration of Small Hydropower and other renewable energy equipment.

·           Construction of Joint Laboratory for Small Hydropower Technology



PCRET’s Potential Hydropower Projects for Foreign Funding


1.      National Hydropower Plant’s Quality Control and Electro-mechanical equipment testing center in Islamabad

Estimated Budget: Rs. 1600 million (USD 10 million)

Time Line:                                   2021 – 2025

Project Description:

            Pakistan’s has blessed with enormous potential of small hydropower though its tapping ratio is low but as per the envisioned renewable energy policy of Pakistan 2030, a large share of small hydropower has to be tapped to achieve the desired targets. Therefore, it is expected that both private and government organization will spend millions of rupees for the development of small hydropower in Pakistan. Making national standards for small hydropower alone cannot serve the purpose of well design, well equipped and long lasting small hydropower for the community development and desired economic outcome in Pakistan. The implementation of the small hydropower standards system in latter and spirit in Pakistan is need of the hour and without its proper implementation, losses of millions of rupees can potentially occur to the national exchequer in the coming years. For that reason, there is a dire need to establish a “Quality Control and Electro-mechanical equipment testing center for small hydropower plant”.

            Considering this huge gap between development and sustainable development of small hydropower plants in Pakistan, PCRET plans to establish a “Quality Control and Electro-mechanical equipment testing center for small hydropower plant” in Islamabad. It will serve as the national level watchdog to check and record the quality of pre and post installation of small hydropower plant in the country and its electro-mechanical equipment as per international standards. The core objectives the project are:

·            Construction of a laboratory in Islamabad

·            Mechanical Testing equipment for turbines and generators including Hardness, Tensile and Ductility Test of Cast Iron, Copper, Aluminum alloys and Steel etc.

·            Performance testing equipment of Cross Flow, Pelton, Kaplan, Francis, Turbulent and Whirlpool turbines of up to 30MW.

·            Performance testing equipment for Generators, Excitation System and Switch Gear with dummy loads.

·            Evaluation of designing of hydropower plants including site selection, hydrology, electric system, hydro mechanical works, construction planning and social

        and environmental impacts etc as per international guidelines.

·            Evaluation of hydraulic turbines, generators, governing and excitation system, protection and control system etc.

·            Evaluation of civil works and placement of electro-mechanical structures and its installation.

·            Evaluation of project construction management, operation and maintenance, technical renovation and project acceptability criteria.


2.      Hydropower Power Plant’s Electro-mechanical equipment and Allied Accessories Manufacturing Facility in Islamabad

Estimated Budget:                      Rs. 2400 million (USD 15 million)

Time Line:                                         2021 – 2025

Project Description:

            Pakistan has blessed with perennial water falls in the north to channel water flow in the south. It has enormous potential of hydropower estimated around 100,000MW. Although the current ratio of hydropower in Pakistan total energy mix is stands at only 27% vis-a-vis 64% of fossil fuels but as per the envisioned Policy of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, a large share of hydropower needs to be added in energy mix of Pakistan to achieve the desired goals i.e. 26000MW by 2025 and 34000MW by 2030. In the year 2018-19, Pakistan has spent $4.6 billion on import of electrical machineries including electro-mechanical equipment and allied accessories necessary for hydropower plant.

            Currently there is lack of state of the art factories to manufacture, fabricate and assemble hydro turbines and generators in country. Considering the gap of non-availability of standard locally made electro – mechanical equipment for hydropower and high demand in the market and government’s plan to enhance hydropower capacity in Pakistan, it is expected that there will be more focus on the development of hydropower in Pakistan in the coming years. It will attract billions rupees investment from both private and government organizations for the development of hydropower in Pakistan. Therefore, PCRET has plans to establish a state of the art electro-mechanical equipment manufacturing facility in Islamabad in consultation with Chinese government. The aim of the project is to produce high efficient turbines and generators as per international standards at a low cost in Pakistan and to attract foreign direct investment in this sector. The core objectives of the project are:

·         Establishment of designing facility for turbines and generators

·         Establishment of a turbine blades manufacturing facility

·         Establishment of stator manufacturing facility

·         Establishment of a wicket gate manufacturing facility

·         Assembling plants for turbine and generators