When it comes to hydropower one of the first steps in hydro site evaluation is to perform a site energy survey. Basically regardless of whether its small or micro hydro the power, a needs survey will help you to tell just how much value there is for the hydro electric energy potential that your site has.
Generally, the Micro Hydro sites will be easier to evaluate since more is known about the site power usage. A simple checklist of power loads and maximum wattage will suffice to get the initial data.
For Small Hydro sites that plan to export power to the grid, you will need quite a bit more information about grid interconnects and local vs. remote loads, energy price structures and various generation vs. transmission charges associated with commercial power. Frankly this part of project evaluation can be quite intimidating for some energy markets. Let us know if you need help performing this type of survey and we’ll see what can be done.
Regardless of hydro system size, keep your focus on answering the following question; “What is the market going to pay for this power?” Later you will need to evaluate “What is the power generation going to cost?”
For a simple appliance load calculation form see ABS Alaskan’s: Simple Energy Survey Form
Note: This application does not save data, so fill it and print it out.
One problem with energy surveys is getting a handle on peak power usage. This peak energy need will determine the required maximum hydro generator or battery-inverter capacity. It can be tempting to simply take the sum of all devices and use that for power estimation, don’t do it. In reality the overall system load capacity will limit out at the maximum rating for the home, farm or cabin’s maximum service panel rating (the big breaker or fuse feeding the whole system.)
Also, it may be worthwhile to count Heating loads as fed by gas or other sources since these can require much larger peak energy loads than is practical. Hint: Hydropower Load dumps can supply part of this stored heat for a more system savings.
These calculations are designed to compensate for battery inverter conversion losses. Remember your system may have a different conversion efficiency factor. Also remember the hydro turbine and power generator have their efficiency factors as well.