Micro hydro power was once the world’s prominent source of mechanical power for manufacturing.
Micro hydro is making a comeback for electricity generation in homes. Increasing numbers of small hydro systems are being installed in remote
sites in North America. There’s also a growing market for micro hydro electricity in developing countries. This article is a technical over-view.
Micro hydro power is gradually assuming the decentralized form it once had. Water power predates
the use of electricity. At one time hydro power was employed on many sites in Europe and North America. It was primarily used to grind grain where
water had a vertical drop of more than a few feet and sufficient flow. Less common, but of no less importance, was the use of hydro to provide
shaft power for textile plants, sawmills and other manufacturing operations.
Over time thousands of small mills were replaced by centrally-generated electric power. Many major
hydroelectric projects were developed using large dams, generating several megaWatts of power. In many areas, hydro electric power is still used
on a small scale and is arguably the most cost-effective form of energy.