hydropower green energy

Small-scale hydropower would allow small rural communities to go green on electricity.

It’s a fact of life that people need electricity, but generating it is often harmful to the environment. Moving forward, we need to find more ways to generate power that have less of an impact on the world around us.

That’s where hydropower comes in. One form of green energy, hydropower uses rivers and streams to generate electricity. That means communities can get their power with minimal impact on the environment. While large scale hydroelectric dams can impact local wildlife, small-scale hydropower has far less of an impact on wildlife, it’s renewable, and it doesn’t generate carbon emissions.

Small-scale hydropower is also an excellent option for small, underdeveloped communities because it can be installed with relatively simple, cost-effective technology. Hard to reach places in mountainous regions, for example, can make use of small-scale hydropower instead of relying on distant power plants.

The problem is figuring out whether or not a local stream or river is suitable for powering such a generator. Thanks to a team at Oregon State University, there is now a freely available software package that can be used to test waterways to see what kind of power generation they might be capable of.

The software can help under-developed communities figure out the best pace to situate a new power generator based on information that they have access to on site. Often, such decisions are based on data that is difficult to collect. This program gets around that through on-site data collection, and it can not only figure out the potential output of a current stream, but can also project how that waterway will continue to operate for some time into the future.

Based on climate change and other data, the program can figure out whether the waterway will become more or less efficient over time, which can give communities a much better idea of whether or not a site is suitable for hydropower.