The bigger grid-tied system took much more time and effort to complete, and cost more than $100,000. In hindsight, there was a fair bit of hubris in our design decision to maximize the power potential of the creek. That system will take at least a decade to return the investment, assuming it’s pushing out as much power as possible all the time. We are power producers now, keeping the electrons flowing out to the grid, in exchange for checks from the utility. That’s a totally different perspective on microhydro from my off-grid system that churns away in the background, keeping our small bank of batteries charged and dumping surplus power to heat water most of the time.
Eric Youngren is a NABCEP-certified PV installer with more than 10 years of experience designing and installing RE systems. In 2008, he founded Solar Nexus International, a value-adding distributor of pre-integrated solar systems and manufacturer of the SolarNexus off-grid power system appliance.
Canyon Hydro • www.canyonhydro.com • 60 kW hydro plant
Harris Hydro • 707-986-7771 • Home-scale hydro plant
Hydroscreen • www.hydroscreen.com • Hydro-Shear intake screen
Thomson & Howe Energy Systems Inc. • www.smallhydropower.com/thes.html • Hydro controls & grid-protection panel