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Is a Micro-Hydroelectric System Feasible For You?
People with streams flowing through or near their property sometimes wonder whether they can use a hydro-electric system to power their home or sell electricity to a utility or both. Many factors determine the feasibility of such a hydroelectric systems. These include:

  • the amount of power available from the stream, and if it is sufficient to meet power requirements;  
  • legal restrictions-local, state, and federal, on the development of the hydroelectric site, and the use of the water; 
  • the availability of turbines and generators of the type or capacity required; 
  • the cost of developing the site and operating the system; 
  • and the rate a utility will pay for electricity you generate (if you connect to their system).

Foundation for Water Energy Efficiency (FWEE)
FWEE discusses the Columbia River Basin watershed and its ecosystems at its website. "The romantic and mythic nature of the Columbia River is something that cuts across both generations and cultures," says FWEE. Some Native Americans call it "Nch-i-wana," or the Big River. Lewis and Clark wrote about its beauty, power, and changing nature in their diaries. The site also features a primer on hydropower and excellent graphic descriptions. 

Hydroelectricity and Other Renewable Resources
Low fossil fuel prices continue to constrain development of renewable energy sources. While the costs of installing and generating electricity with renewable resources continue to decline and technological advances improve generating efficiencies, they historically have not been able to keep pace with the declining costs of energy from fossil fuels, making it difficult for the use of renewables to increase as a share of total energy consumption. Check this U.S. Energy Information Administration site for information on hydroelectric production in the United States and around the world.

DOE Hydropower Program
The U.S. Department of Energy Hydropower Program aims to conduct and coordinate research and development with industry and other federal agencies to improve the technical, societal, and environmental benefits of hydropower. The Office of Biopower and Hydropower Technologies administers the program through the DOE Idaho Operations Office. Check its website for these hydropower facts:

  • FERC Relicense Forecast
  • How Hydropower Works
  • Types of Hydropower Facilities
  • Hydropower's Historical Progression
  • Primary Purpose or Benefit of U.S. Dams
  • Undeveloped Hydropower Potential by State
  • Plant Costs and Production Expenses
  • Electric Utilities' Net Generation of Electricity
  • Top Hydroelectric Generating Countries

International Technology Development Group (ITDG)
ITDG has published a Micro-Hydro Design Manua and has several downloadable pdf and Word documents on various aspects of micro-hydro, including the publication Micro-hydro power 

ITDG has developed micro-hydro systems with communities in Nepal (around 1,200 schemes benefiting around a million people), Peru, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. These systems, which are designed to operate for a minimum of 20 years, are usually 'run-of-the-river' systems.
Bills itself as "Your Internet Portal on (micro) hydro power. The website includes directories, discussion, cases, theory, reference and downloads. And this definition:

The definition of micro hydropower varies in different countries and can even include systems with a capacity of a few megawatts. One of the many definitions for micro hydropower is: hydro systems up till a rated capacity of approximately 300 kW capacity. The limit is set to 300 kW because this is about the maximum size for most stand alone hydro systems not connected to the grid, and suitable for "run-of-the-river" installations.

National Hydropower Association
The National Hydropower Association calls itself "the only National trade association dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the hydropower industry. Its members span the breadth of the industry and all related fields." Use its website for information on hydropower, policy and advocacy issues, publications, and more.


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