Installer Directory


Janet Richardson


Updated on

Jun 21, 2024

Read Time : 3 Minutes

Is Hydroelectricity Generation Worth it? UK Guide

Unlike other renewable energies such as solar and wind, hydroelectric generation often takes a lot more thought and planning. If undertaken properly, though, it can provide a significant return on investment for the initial cost in both time and finance.

There are number of factors that affect the viability of an installation, including the site being chosen, the environmental issues and, of course, the price of the equipment and the construction of the plant.

Is your Site Suitable for Hydroelectricity?

For solar it’s simple, you just have to be in possession of suitable roof, facing the right way and have the finances to have it installed. It’s low maintenance and gives a good return on investment after a few years. With hydroelectricity you need to think long and hard and do the research before you commit to what is a fairly big construction project. Most home owners will not have a free flowing river on hand but that is not the only consideration.

  • Is the river fast flowing enough to provide you with all the electricity you will need?
  • Will construction have an adverse effect on the local environment (including whether there is going to be a build-up of sediment from the outlet)?
  • Is there suitable access to the site to ensure engineers and equipment can reach it?

Find out more about the suitability of hydroelectricity for your property.


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Planning and Designing your Hydroelectricity System

For all but the simplest of hydroelectric systems, you will need to go through a certain amount of planning and design that could add a great deal of cost onto your project. You will need to contact the Environment Agency and undertake an assessment for the impact it will have on the locality.

You may need to have planning permission and you will almost certainly require a bespoke solution that needs some design aspect. All this adds to the cost of installation which is why much of the hydroelectric installation work going on at the moment tends to involve the whole community who come together to help finance the operation.
Find out more about planning permission for hydroelectric projects.

The Cost of Hydroelectricity

The cost of a hydroelectric installation will vary depending on a wide range of factors, apart from purchasing the initial equipment. A small 5 kW system may well cost the minimum of £25,000 to buy and install and will come with additional running costs of another £1,000 a year.

For a private property this cost may be overwhelming even if the system produces enough electricity to earn extra income from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
Find out about the cost of installing a hydroelectric plant.

Maintenance and Hydroelectricity

Compared to other renewable technologies, your hydroelectric system will require regular maintenance, the cost of which will depend on the size. Routine inspections will need to be carried out and things like the bearings lubricated, the screens and pipes cleaned and the generator may well need replacing at some point over its lifetime.
Find out more about hydroelectric maintenance.

The Return on Investment for Hydroelectricity

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) for micro hydro systems is a pioneering initiative that aims to promote the adoption of renewable energy sources, particularly micro hydro power, and facilitate the transition towards a more sustainable energy landscape. Under the SEG scheme, owners of micro hydro systems are incentivized to generate renewable electricity and contribute any excess power they generate back to the grid.

Micro hydro systems harness the power of flowing water in small-scale installations, making them an environmentally friendly and efficient energy option for remote or rural locations. The SEG ensures that these energy producers receive fair compensation for their surplus electricity by allowing them to sell it to energy suppliers.

By offering financial incentives, such as tariff payments for the electricity they export, the SEG encourages more individuals and businesses to invest in micro hydro systems. This results in the diversification of the energy mix, reduces reliance on fossil fuels, and lowers carbon emissions, contributing to national and global climate change mitigation efforts.

The SEG fosters innovation in renewable energy technologies and empowers local communities to become active participants in the green energy revolution. With the integration of micro hydro systems into the energy grid, we move closer to a cleaner, greener, and sustainable energy future.

In conclusion

Installing a micro hydro system can indeed be worth it, but its viability depends on various factors. These systems offer numerous advantages, such as renewable energy generation, environmental friendliness, and potential cost savings in the long run. They empower individuals and communities to become more self-sufficient and reduce their carbon footprint. However, before embarking on such a project, thorough site assessment, feasibility studies, and proper planning are essential.

Factors like water availability, environmental impact, initial investment costs, and regulatory requirements must be carefully evaluated. If executed wisely and tailored to specific circumstances, micro hydro systems can be a sustainable and rewarding energy solution.


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