Micro Hydro Power Advantages and Limitations

A Micro Hydro Power plant is a dam-less small scale and a very cost-effective electric power generator. The energy source that is utilized is the force (kinetic energy) of the down streaming water that causes a water turbine to generate electric power.

The advantages of the Micro Hydro Power generator

A micro hydropower residential plant is by its very nature located near a reliable water stream and therefore it can provide electricity to off-grid homes and off-grid ranches uninterruptedly. Down streaming water are probably the most cost-effective energy source for off grid power generation.

The main advantages of micro hydropower plants are:

  • Cost effectiveness; micro-hydro plants cost less than residential solar power plants and home wind turbines that generate comparable amount of electrical power

  • Like any other clean energy production plants, water stream generators are entitled to energy tax credits, until tax year 2016

  • Continuous operation day and night and under any wind conditions (not like solar plants or wind turbines) and every day, seasonal changes however can be anticipated (more water during the winter season and the spring season, less water during the summer season)

  • Non intrusive and efficient; not like the big hydro plants that use dams and create giant lakes behind the dams, micro-hydro plants only divert a small fraction of the stream and they don’t need a water storage pool. Therefore the environmental damage that accompanies the large scale hydro plants is not duplicated by the micro-hydro dam-less electric plants.

  • In rare cases where the site is close to grid lines, part of the produced power can be sold back to the utility, and the grid serves as backup


The limitations of micro hydropower plants are:

  • A necessary condition to install a micro hydro plant is obviously to have an available reliable water stream within a few hundred feet from the location of the residence on the land that belongs to the homeowner (or the ranch owner, as the case maybe)

  • One must be very careful not to harm the environment, leave the scenery as beautiful as it was, don’t harm wildlife, birds and fish as well as the local trees and shrubs. This can easily be achieved without investing any terrible amount of extra cost

  • Even though the micro hydro plant requires low maintenance, with years some of the pipe run might be covered with vegetation and the access to the pipe might be difficult; keeping the vegetation off is an extra effort that might require the hiring of laborers and equipment

"Zero Head" micro-hydro power generator

An innovative approach right from India. A generator, totally submersed in streaming water. Steal blades rotate slowly under the kinetic pressure of the water; a simple gear mechanism bring the rotation speed up to 20 RPM or so, the actual electric generator rotates at this higher rotation speed and generates electric power.

Micro hydro power generator is a good candidate as an off grid power generating system

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