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DIY (Do it Yourself) Projects -- Micro-Hydro (Electric) Generators
Last Updated on:  04/02/2013 10:44 AM

Micro Hydro Powerin the Nineties
by Paul Cunningham & Barbara Atkinson

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.

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