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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States

DG Technology Spotlight: Micro Hydropower

| Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 31, 2005 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Small-scale and micro hydropower technologies are helping bring distributed electricity generation to remote areas around the world. The impacts on the environment are negligible and the economics are competitive. The worldwide market potential is fairly small in terms of overall megawatts (MWs) but for those locations without power today, a new micro-hydro system can make a tremendous difference in people’s lives.

The International Small Hydro Atlas provides a nice definition of the various sizes of hydropower projects:

There is no International consensus on the definition of small hydropower. In Canada ‘small’ can refer to upper limit capacities of between 20 and 25 MW, in the United States ‘small’ can mean 30 MW, however, a value of up to 10 MW total capacity is becoming generally accepted. Small hydro can be further subdivided into mini hydro (usually defined as


About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power. More

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