Small scale hydro power systems

Small- scale hydro power systems

Hydro- power systems use running water to turn a turbine, which then produces electricity through kinetic energy. The energy available will depend on the water’s rate of  flow and the height (or head) that it falls.

Q. Will the micro hydro system generate?

A.  A typical 5kW domestic- scale system will generate about 8,000 kWh per year. A typical house will use between 4,000kWh per year.

Q. How much does a micro hydro system cost?

A. The cost of a system will depend on the site in question and the amount of energy to be generated. A typical 5kW domestic scale system will cost around £20,000.

Q. What grants are available for microgeneration technologies for householders?

A. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) run a Low Carbon Buildings Programme that provides micro-generation grants for householders www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk.

Q. How can I find an installer?

A. Recipients of Low Carbon Buildings Programme grants must use accredited installers and materials. The list of accredited installers is a useful resource even if you are not applying for a grant for all types of renewable technologies

Q. What is the difference between a grid- connected and a standalone system?

A. Where no mains electricity is available, a micro hydro system can be used to replace or supplement the existing local electricity supply (a diesel generator, for example). Batteries can be used to store the energy for later use. 

Where a house is linked to the national grid a micro hydro system can be used to supplement the mains electricity. When the system is not generating enough energy, mains electricity is used. If the micro hydro system generates more electricity than is needed, the excess can be exported to the  national grid by agreement with the regional electricity company.

Q. Will a hydro system have an effect on wildlife? 

A. The impacts on wildlife will depend on the size of the installation. Issues could include changes to the natural hydrological cycles- in other words the cycle of water from the land to the sky and back again. The speed and volume of the flow of water could be also affected. The Environment Agency normally requires you to obtain an ‘abstraction licence’ for any new hydro system. An environmental impact assessment will also usually  be a condition of any planning consent. 
 

Q. Is planning permission needed to install a micro hydro electric system?

See What approvals do I need?

 

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