Small hydropower is a clean, renewable, and predictable energy source. Small hydropower generation systems produce electricity by converting the energy in the running water into electric energy in a way similar to larger traditional hydroelectric systems. In Canada, small hydro generally refers to hydroelectric projects with between 1 and 50 megawatts (MW) in installed capacity. Small hydro systems can either be connected to the grid and provide power to the grid or they can be used for independent and stand-alone applications in isolated remote areas.
Small hydro is one of the alternatives to the highly polluting and very costly diesel generation that currently provides electricity in most remote communities across Canada. The potential power that could be produced by small hydropower technologies is estimated to be 15,000 MW, and the current installed small hydro capacity is approximately 3,400 MW. Small hydro energy is clean energy and very flexible in terms of meeting peak load demands while providing energy security. By using both the existing state-of-the-art and the emerging technologies, the vast small hydro potential could be developed to help Canada meet its future energy needs and bring about more environmental and socio-economical benefits.
Major achievements by CanmetENERGY in the area of hydraulic energy include: supporting a university laboratory in becoming the only independent hydraulic turbine testing laboratory in North America; the development of resource assessment tools; and the involvement in international R&D. Typical emerging small hydro technologies include: low head and very low head power generation technology, water current turbines technology and fish-friendly turbine technology. CanmetENERGY also helped build strong links between utilities, academic institutions, and other relevant government programs.
CanmetENERGY's work on hydraulic energy helped advanced technologies that will contribute to the development of the vast small hydro potential in Canada (especially low head hydro) in an energy efficient and environmentally friendly manner.
The CanmetENERGY hydraulic energy program concluded in 2010. For more information, please contact us.