Hydro
Hydro power is fast becoming one of the worlds leading sources of renewableenergy. Hydroelectric power is the conversion of the potential energy stored in the head height of falling water that is converted into electrical energy by using the water to turn a small turbine. The speed and quantity of the flowing water will determine the amount of power output for driving the turbine and hence the amount of electricity generated.

Large-scale hydroelectric power involves huge dams to be built. China is the largest user of hydro power in the world followed by Brazil and the USA. Large scale dams whilst providing a renewable source of electricity can also affect have significant impacts on the areas concerned resulting in the displacement of populations and damage to ecosystems so the costs at stake for each project need to be carefully assessed.

Hydro power however does not only operate on a large scale.
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Figure 1: Community micro-hydro power development in Kenya, Stephen Gitonga
Small-scale micro-hydro systems have received significant attention in both remote areas of developed countries as well as developing countries as a means to generate electricity where there is free fast flowing water. Typical energy outputs of micro-hydro systems range from 5kW to 100kW compared to large-scale systems where over 2MW can be generated (Ashden Awards, 2010).

One example is given of micro hydro project in Nepal, see: Micro-hydroDevelopmentInNepal. This gives an outline of the factors involved in planning, funding and potential of the micro hydro projects observed.

These small scale systems have little effect on the surrounding environment as large damns are not required. They also help prevent deforestation in areas where previously firewood was the only source of fuel. Costs vary however a typical cost is £1200-£4000 per installed kilowatt (Practical Action, 2010) and would serve a communities electricity needs.

Resources

  1. http://www.ashdenawards.org/micro-hydro
  2. http://practicalaction.org/energy/micro_hydro_faq



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