Thoroughly modern milling

In this month’s back-to-basics series, Cathryn Hickey, from the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies, looks at micro-hydro, a topical choice as we launch into yet another wet winter.
Micro-hydropower systems make use of natural water resources to generate electrical energy. A micro-hydropower system is either installed within, or near to, a suitable watercourse such as a river. Water passes through or across a turbine, causing the turbine to rotate. The turbine shaft is connected to a generator and as the turbine rotates the hydropower energy is converted to electrical energy. As the water leaves the turbine, it is returned to the watercourse.
When a micro-hydropower system is installed near to rather than within a suitable watercourse, a penstock (a pipe) is used to convey the water from the inlet to the turbine. Water is returned back to the watercourse via a tailrace, which can be either a pipe or a channel.
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