Small plants, small impact

In order to overcome the problems regarding the protection of the environment which the realization of hydroelectric power plants in areas that are particularly vulnerable and sensitive involve, the trend of the past years has been to progressively abandon the construction of large plants with a heavy impact on the environment, in favour of small sized hydroelectric power plants, the microhydro plants, which are small hydroelectric power plants with powers that are less than 100kW. These power plants are built without storage tanks or water collection areas , and can exploit differences in levels of only a few metres, enabling the production of energy even in isolated areas that are normally not served by the national energy supply network, as for example isolated inhabited locations, farms and shelters. This type of water resource offers the concerned mountain communities the possibility of a direct control of its management and use. The energy that is produced is exploited on site with immediate advantages for the local populations and without necessarily setting up imposing electricity power lines. For plants with a limited power, the intake of water is quite limited, changes in the course and the flow rate are negligible and the water that is used is returned immediately downstream of the hydroelectric power plant.
The characteristics of these plants seem to be most suited to exploit the potential of the streams that are fed by waters from melting ice in a capillary manner, in isolated mountain areas that are not well served by the national network.
At present a law proposal is being examined, which will also allow the inclusion of micro-hydro power plants in the net metering network, which is an exchange system with the Italian national electricity network, which enables the input of energy when one’s production has an excess and to draw energy when one’s production is not sufficient. At present this method is applied only in the case of energy produced by private photovoltaic plants.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

  • energy

    Watermill

    Look

    energy

    Dam on the Colorado River

    Look

    energy

    Dam on the Sacramento River

    Look
  • energy

    Penstock

    Look

    energy

    Waterfall

    Look

    energy

    Percentage of energy from hydroelectric in 2016

    Look
  • energy

    Number of hydroelectric plants in Italy

    Look

    energy

    Hydroelectric production in Italy

    Look

    energy

    Share of renewable electricity sources in total electricity sector consumption (2018)

    Look
  • energy

    Watermill

    Look

    energy

    Dam on the Colorado River

    Look
  • energy

    Dam on the Sacramento River

    Look

    energy

    Penstock

    Look
  • energy

    Waterfall

    Look

    energy

    Percentage of energy from hydroelectric in 2016

    Look
  • energy

    Watermill

    Look
  • energy

    Dam on the Colorado River

    Look
  • energy

    Dam on the Sacramento River

    Look

Facts