Micro-Hydro Power Picking Up Spead As More Rural Towns Want To Go Off-Grid

micro hydro power japan images

Photos from Agua y Tierra Network in Kochi prefecture, Japan

Many rural towns and communities can benefit from hydroelectric power solutions, especially small scale projects that don't require massive investments. In Kochi prefecture, one town decided to go micro-hydro and install small power plants. They found that it took some effort, but after town meetings and a focus on education, people liked the idea of self-sufficiency and the environmental benefits. Hydroelectric power is Japan's largest energy resource, and these projects are a "small-is-beautiful" kind of deal that rings true with communities that don't want huge dams or more concrete, just a clever way to produce energy.According to a survey done by the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Japan's potential water potentiality (meaning reusable energy water resources) is 46.1 million kW. Small or micro hydro power as defined by NEDO amounts to 6.7 million kW of latent potential that is currently undeveloped.

With higher fossile fuel costs and an increasing sense that nuclear energy is never going to come back into fashion again, there is a change in the focus. Japan's major companies are providing micro-hydro power plants like Toshiba's Hydro-eKIDS, for small scale hydroelectric power plants. One community that uses this is Auchleshie northwest of Edinburgh in Scotland. Their mission was clear:

"To produce a complete hydro feasibility study of the Auchleshie site in order to determine the options for installing a small scale hydro system to help the Baillie-Hamilton's achieve their goals of self sustainability".

toshiba ekids hydro power photo

Photo: Toshiba

In Kochi prefecture, meanwhile, the town found that linking energy education to issues such as global warming and the need to reduce CO2 emissions made a lot of sense. At seminars earlier this year, experts from local NGOs and environmental groups also contributed to the discussion. Kochi on the island of Shikoku has both rivers and plentyful forests, as well as mountains that help bring an abundance of rain. The micro-hydro project is billed as a way to create energy independence while also protecting local industries in the forestry and agricultural sectors.

Here at greenz.jp, we really like this approach. In the way that the Internet spread through small size dispersion computing, we may now well be entering the generation of small size dispersion for energy. Rather than the conventional "bigger is better" approach, the notion of making smaller things with lest waste is far better suited to the environmental awareness of the 21st Century. It'll be a really sweet feeling if small can become something that surpasses big. From now on, this generation will be about concentrating small power to generate great strength, and as the proverb has it "slow and steady will win the race," says greenz.jp writer Masatugu Kayahara.

More Off-Grid Micro-Hydro Energy:
Generating Off-Grid Power: The Four Best Ways
Is Living Off the Grid Right For You?
XelaTeco: Green Power for a Guatemalan Village
The Success Of "Small is Beautiful" In Nepal
Hydro Power Without the Dams: Ontario Invests in Free Flow Underwater Turbines

Brought to you by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

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