Hydroelectrical power systems use running water turning a turbine to produce electricity. A micro hydro plant is one that generates less than 100 killowatts.
Improvements in small turbine and generator technology mean that micro hydro schemes are an attractive means of producing electricity. Useful power may be produced from even a small stream.
For houses with no mains connection but with access to a micro hydro site, a good hydro system can generate a steady, more reliable electricity supply than other renewable technologies at a lower cost. Total system costs can be high but often less than the cost of a grid connection and with no electricity bills to follow.
It should be noted that in off-grid applications the power is used for lighting and electrical appliances. However, space and water heating can be supplied when available power exceeds demand.
For more information on how small scale hydro power systems work, costs and other important considerations see the Energy Saving Trust information page.
- Planning Practice Guidance: Renewable and low carbon energy
- The National Energy Foundation
- British Hydropower Association - A Guide to UK Micro Hydro Developments