Micro Hydro Power on a small-scale can be an economical energy technology compared to solar photovoltaics if you have a river or stream close to your factory. Low-pressure micro-hydro schemes are extremely robust generating electrical power for several years with little or no maintenance and are additionally one of the cleanest sources of energy technologies offered.

We know from the tutorials in this web site that hydroelectric power, or hydroelectricity, is generated by the force of falling water. The daily hydrologic cycle of water in which the evaporation of water from lakes and oceans, forms into clouds, then returning to earth as rain or snow before flowing back again to the lakes and oceans.

Sea horizon in Corona Del Mar
Photo by Austin Neill / Unsplash

The energy potential of this continuous water cycle driven by the sun is harnessed and used more efficiently with micro-hydro schemes as very little or no water has to be stored minimizing any adverse effects on the local environment, not like big-scale hydro.

For large scale hydro energy production there are many existing schemes like impoundment hydropower, overshot and undershot waterwheels as well as localized small-scale hydropower plants. However, the generation of hydroelectricity is typically related to the building of artificial lakes and dams built from millions of tons of rocks, concrete, and earth to block off any existing stream flows.

A typical low-pressure micro-hydro installation, on the other hand, is run-of-river schemes that don't need water impoundment. Instead, a small part of the flowing water from a stream upstream is diverted downhill through penstocks, pipes or canals to rotate a small water turbine before coming back to the same river permitting it to be easily integrated with existing irrigation and water supply projects.

In case properly designed, a micro hydropower generation scheme ought to a non-polluting, renewable resource causing minimal environmental disruption to both the river and the native ecology as any civil or building works used during construction solely serve to regulate the water level at the intake, therefore, eliminating the same types of adverse effects to the local environment as would be the case with a big scale hydro scheme.

Micro hydropower is generally defined because of the generation of electrical power from a couple of hundred watts to 10’s of kilo-watts (10kW) and is commonly considered to be a green type of energy since there are no harmful emissions related to the generation of the electricity.

The following example image shows the main elements of a typical run-of-river low-pressure micro-hydro scheme. river water is channeled to the turbine settled in the powerhouse via a penstock. The turbine drives an electrical generator that provides electricity directly, DC for battery charging or via a transmission line to provide AC domestic power to a house or houses for lighting and power uses.