Run of River Small & Micro Hydropower Issues

Apr 28


Q: Lou asked me to visit a few river saving Web sites.  Interesting stuff.  After looking over the subject covered and the evidence, as it was presented, I put together the following response. [In fairness to Lou I have edited the post a bit]

A: You really should investigate in-stream hydro or run-of-river hydroelectric designs further.  It’s a good design that incorporates river eco-balance too.  Europeans are very much in favor of this technology.  There is a 100 year history of Hydropower with both successes and failures to learn from.

By pressing the ‘not in my back yard’ case for Small & Micro hydro we easily create a no win ecologic and bad economic ROI situation. There is much to be lost ecologically by considering rivers as strictly off limits. Instead we should press for making responsible use economical and requiring governments to assist in the process instead of planting a multitude of conflicting regulations in the path to success.

The reality is that all the lost hydropower will be replaced with nuclear power, oil, gas and coal in nations that have that capacity.  Those aren’t a good eco-energy-option in the long 300+ year term.  These river use or restriction choices have potentially detrimental outcomes that go way beyond a simple local model to predict.  These impacts affect economies and food supplies that must in turn depend on low cost local energy.

Unfortunately in the rush to paint Dams and Hydro as evil we left out Instream run-of-river Hydro systems which provide a much better eco balance than any other renewable energy source. Including solar which has large power fluctuations, chemicals & energy to produce, also takes huge land areas,  wind which has large power fluctuations, bird & bat strikes, causes new vibrations and flashing blade visual psychological impacts on people living nearby,  etc.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, nor a free energy. Every act has consequences.


Hydro Prospector Jess

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