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Ways of using hydro power

You can use waterpower and convert it to mechanical power to power mechanical devices or you can go one step further and produce electricity to power electric devices.

However that’s not what we want to talk about here because in the industrialized world most users will choose to produce electricity.

Therefore here we want to discuss the ways of producing and using electricity produced from hydropower.

There are 2 ways of using electricity from hydropower:

1Grid-tied (on-grid)


1Grid-tied (on-grid)

This way of using hydropower means that you still have electric hook up to the electricity grid via your local distribution company and you get an electrical bill. You’ll never be short of power, you’re just like everyone else. If your hydropower system shuts off, you still have power.

There are 2 ways of having a grid-tied hydro system.

1. Net-metered
2. Feed-in-Tariff (FIT)

Your jurisdiction has to have these options in order to take advantage of them, or you may not be able to grid connect your system at all. But there are approximately 20 countries now with FIT systems. In Canada not all provinces have FIT and Net Metering mechanisms.

Net Metering

Net Metering rules can differ by jurisdiction. So check the rules in your area before making any decisions. However, the essence of the arrangement is that you can connect to the grid and “offset” your own usage.

Generally, you won’t get paid for producing more power than you use. However, there can be a carry forward period so that if you produce more power than you use, you can essentially carry that amount forward and offset the power you use from the grid at times when you are using more power than you generate.

There is no contract to sell power, you just offset your own use.

Feed-in-Tariff (FIT)

In this case you get a contract to supply and sell power to the grid from your hydro power system.

At the same time, you are also still just another electricity customer also using power from the grid just like everyone else. The two are totally separate

Read more about the Pros and Cons of Net Metering and FIT Learn more


This way of using hydropower means that you disconnect yourself from the grid completely. You get no bill from your electricity company. you are your own little grid.

In this case all the power you use, even the peak power you use, you have to supply yourself.

This means that if your hydro system can’t supply your peak power usage, you’ll have to either reduce your peak usage or supplement the power available by means of a storage system (batteries) or increase the size of your hydro system if that’s an option.

There are many factors to consider in deciding whether to go off grid or grid connected.

And if you decide on grid connecting your hydro system, there are again many factors to consider in deciding whether to net meter or obtain a FIT contract.

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