Small Scale Hydropower

by Mélodie Ah-Waye on Novembre 9, 2017 - 10:21pm

By Ariane Gauthier, Alexanne Beaulieu and Mélodie Ah-Waye


            Since the first villages, water has been a great source of power, from grinding flour to produce electricity. Fortunately, inventors have succeeded to create a system that would use water motion to generate power called hydroelectricity. In Quebec, since 1944, this system has been the major source of power of Quebec citizens. Even if hydroelectricity is a renewable source of power, it has been the source of many controvert and problem in the past years. Lot of people complain about the important negative impacts as flood and destruction of the ecosystem hydroelectricity has. Happily, there are solutions that can be propose to reduce or eliminate the consequences. 

            Firstly, we all know that hydropower has some disadvantages, but it’s although a powerful energy that is always growing for the better, and everything is better than polluting energy. Sustainability is a process that should be used for economic, politic and environmental aspects in life, and hydropower which is water and electricity policy, has been really expensive in the last years, and that’s why poorest countries don’t have clean water/electricity. So, for this particular moment, we are looking at the alternatives of sustainable alternatives for this source of energy. The International Hydropower Association of UNESCO is making a “Sustainable guidelines” that give priority to equity with stakeholders. This community knows that they need a new kind of hydropower that will be individual for regions but not isolated so that every location could use the 3 aspects that prove sustainability (social, economic, environmental). This Association has benefits such as: reliable service, providing a lower cost, new jobs, saving fuels, providing flood protection, not wasting, few greenhouse gas emissions, without pollutants.  

            Secondly, using small-scale hydropower has many environmental advantages. In fact, this renewable energy only needs a small quantity of water to produce electricity compared to the large-scale hydroelectric dams and its energy can be delivered up to one mile away from the facility where it is generated. Furthermore, this sustainable way of producing electricity has minimal environmental impacts because it does not produce water or air pollution. Another benefit of small-scale hydropower is that it doesn’t need a reservoir because the water goes right through the generator and back into the river, which is why it is also known as a ‘run-of-river’ system. Also, because there are no reservoirs installed, small-scale hydraulic energy doesn’t have the issues related to reservoirs that large-scale hydroelectric facilities have to deal with, like methane emissions, disrupted stream dynamic, sedimentation and many more. Moreover, hydropower can increase the amount of oxygen in the water which contributes to fish stock preservation. These small facilities can also contribute to flood control in residential areas.

            To conclude, although hydroelectricity has its disadvantages, its advantages are also very important. In fact, hydropower has social, economic and environment benefits that are considerable if it is use effectively. Generate power to households with water should be use in small scale in order to reduce its negative impacts. Plus, there are many other sources of energy that can be used to be efficient. 



“About sustainability in the hydropower industry”. Hydro Tasmania. Accessed November 9 2017.

“Micro Hydro Power – Pros and Cons”. Alternative Energy. Accessed November 9 2017.