What is Micro-Hydro Power & Does It Work?

By Stephen Lawrence


In the United States, 100% of people living within the country have access to electricity in some capacity (1), so it seems a bit far fetched for many Americans to think about how many people across the globe are still in the dark when it comes to electricity and the access they rightfully deserve. Additionally, when we really think about the numbers of people living without electricity, about 1 in 7 people do not have access to any form of refrigeration systems, lighting or electric cooking methods.

Fortunately, as the numbers continue to rise of individuals living without electricity, a simple and inexpensive system has been formed that helps many people, specifically in third world countries, gain access to electricity: micro-hydro power.

According to Home Power, micro-hydro power is the process of using running water and a vertical drop to gain continuous flow to renewable energy (2). The individuals who install these systems simply put in a turbine into a river or stream and connect the system to electrical wiring that pumps electricity throughout the area. This system works specifically well for small communities of people who do not need a high amount of electricity, but could still benefit from it.


While there have been critique to the micro-hydro power systems, as some people claim it disrupts the natural flow of rivers and streams, the benefits of micro-hydro systems have been beneficial for local, small communities of people in rural countries. These systems are easily functional, allowing locals to work to maintain them, and allow for diseases to stop spreading, as refrigeration becomes an option for locals.

The system may not be perfect, but in many third world countries, this system has greatly impacted the success of the community and allowed many individuals to thrive with electrical access. For more information about ways that micro-hydro power systems are being used, check out the Green Empowerment website, which explores the ways that micro-hydro systems are used in real world communities:

https://www.greenempowerment.org/electricity/

References:

https://www.cnn.com/2016/04/01/africa/africa-state-of-electricity-feat/index.html

(1) https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.ELC.ACCS.ZS

(2) https://www.homepower.com/articles/microhydro-power/basics/what-microhydro-power

http://www.hydrogenappliances.com/hydro.html