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~ Small Scale Hydro Electric Power

small-scale hydropower   Micro-Hydro Power: Small-Scale, Large Impact

Micro-hydro power is just what it sounds like: energy produced by small-scale hydro-electric power installations. Just how small can vary: an individual station can produce anywhere from just a couple kW up to 100 kW of power. It's an efficient way to produce energy because only a small flow of water is required to generate electricity--and we're talking small, like two gallons per minute, or a drop of as little as two feet.

Electricity generated with micro-hydro power can be transported up to a mile. That may not sound like a long distance, but along with everything else local, it goes a long way to sustain individual communities in an eco-friendly way, as well as frees us just a bit from the power grid.

Not only does micro-hydro produce cleaner electricity than fossil fuels, but as the water passes through the generator, it is directed back into the stream and leaves almost no impact on the surrounding environment. It's a great resource for developing countries to tap, given the longevity of the equipment and the low costs involved (installation can be as low as $1,000, and maintenance costs are smaller than for other technologies). And in the U.S., if your site produces a surplus of energy, some power companies will even buy that electricity from you.

Not convinced yet?
A 2004 survey found that only 40 percent of America's hydropower potential had been developed, and that micro-hydro technologies could account for fully half of the 170 GW that remained undeveloped. Micro-hydro power stations might produce small amounts of energy individually, but with enough of them in place, the results are nothing to sneeze at. Call it micro-power for macro-impact.

Related Posts:
NPR's Interactive Power Grid Map Shows Who's Got the Power
Get the Most Out of Time-of-Use Electricity Rates
Off The Grid.

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