Run-of-the-river Project Run-of-the-river Project

• Run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects are hydroelectric systems that harvest the energy from flowing water to generate electricity.

Key highlights

• The primary difference between this type of hydroelectric generation compared to others is that run-of-the-river primarily uses the natural flow rate of water to generate power—instead of the power of water falling from a height.

• For a run-of-the-river system to be possible in a given location, there needs to be two specific geographical features:

• A substantial flow rate, either from rainfall or a melting snowpack.

• There must be enough of a tilt to the river to speed the water up significantly.


• These are less expensive to build and can be built over a shorter period of time.

• They have a smaller environmental footprint when compared to dams with large amounts of water storage.

• However, the output from run-of-the-river system is significantly lower than large scale hydro projects, which increases the cost per kWh as compared to Dam based hydroelectric generation.

• The manipulation of river flows can cause a significant number of environmental impacts affecting the aquatic ecosystem.


Mains Paper 3: Economy

Prelims level: Run-of-the-river Project

Mains level: Infrastructure

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