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