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Hydro power, or hydropower, systems convert the potential energy stored in water held at height (upstream) to kinetic energy in order to turn a turbine which produces electricity.
A micro hydro plant is one below 100kW. Improvements in small turbine and generator technology mean that microhydro schemes are an attractive means of producing electricity.
Useful power may be produced from a small stream. The most likely range is from a few hundred watts for domestic schemes, using batteries for backup, to a minimum of 25kW for commercial ventures.
Hydro power requires the source to be fairly close to where the power will be used. Hydro systems can be connected to the main grid, with a feed-in tariff for payment, or as a part of a stand-alone (off-grid) power system.
In an off-grid hydro system electricity is supplied directly to the appliances that need it. Power (DC) is passed through a battery bank and inverter set up.
A back-up power system, other than batteries which only cover small and short variations, may be needed to compensate for seasonal variations in water flow.