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Micro Hydro Power

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

1.   What is micro-hydro power?

2.   How does a micro hydro system work?

3.   What are the system components?

4.   What are the advantages of using a hydro system?

5.   Is micro hydro practical for you?

6.   How do I know if I have a good microhydro site?

7.   Is it legally feasible?

8.   How much does it cost?

9.   Can I sell my power?

10. What's the environmental impact?

1. What is micro-hydro power?

Hydropower systems that generate up to 100 kilowatts (kW) of electricity are often called micro-hydro systems. Most of the systems used by home and small business owners would qualify as micro hydro systems. In fact, a 10 kW system generally can provide enough power for a large home, a small resort, or a hobby farm.

2. How does a micro hydro system work?

Micro hydro systems use the energy in flowing water to produce electricity or mechanical energy. A portion of a river or stream's water is diverted to a channel, pipeline, or pressurized pipeline (penstock) that delivers it to a waterwheel or turbine. The moving water rotates the wheel or turbine, which spins a shaft. The motion of the shaft can be used for mechanical processes, such as pumping water, or it can be used to power an electric generator.

The basic principle of hydropower is that if water can be piped from a certain level to a lower level, then the resulting water pressure can be used to do work. If the water pressure is allowed to move a mechanical component then that movement involves the conversion of the potential energy of the water into mechanical energy. Hydro turbines convert water pressure into mechanical shaft power, which can be used to drive an electricity generator, a grinding mill or some other useful device.

3. What are the system components?

Small hydro power systems consist of these basic components: Water conveyance-A channel, pipeline, or pressurized pipeline (penstock) that delivers the water; a turbine or waterwheel, which transforms the energy of flowing water into rotational energy; an alternator or generator, which transforms the rotational energy into electricity; a regulator, which controls the generator, and wiring, which delivers the electricity .

4. What are the advantages of using a hydro system?

Although there are costs in buying and installing the system, a hydro power system will typically last a long time and maintenance is usually not expensive. In addition, there are a variety of financial incentives available on the state, utility, and federal level for investments in renewable energy systems. They include income tax credits, property tax exemptions, state sales tax exemption, loan programs, and special grant programs.

5. Is micro hydro practical for you?

To build a small hydropower system, you need access to reliable flowing water. A sufficient quantity of falling water must be available, which usually, but not always, means that hilly or mountainous sites are best. There are specific methods for calculating whether the water flow you have is sufficient to power a turbine.

6. How do I know if I have a good microhydro site?

If you have enough head and flow and have designed the catchment, distribution and generating system so that it can't freeze (or to prevent its operation in