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How much hydropower income would my system provide?

Hydropower income is slightly complicated… There are up to four components that make up the total value of generated hydro electricity, namely:

  • Feed-in Tariff (also known as the FiT or Clean Energy Cashback)
  • Export value
  • Offset value for energy used on-site

Each of these components is described in more detail here along with information on how they can affect the overall value of the energy generated. If you want a simple answer, then assuming 100% of the generated energy was exported with an export rate of 5 p/kWh, then the value of the electricity generated for the system sizes shown below would be:

Hydro System
Max. Power Output
Feed-in Tariff Export Price Total Value
< 100 kW 7.65 p/kWh 5 p/kWh 12.65 p/kWh
100 to 500 kW 6.12 p/kWh 5 p/kWh 11.12 p/kWh
500 kW to 2 MW 6.12 p/kWh 5 p/kWh 11.12 p/kWh
> 2 MW 4.43 p/kWh 5 p/kWh 9.43 p/kWh

Rates effective from as of the latest page update onb 11th November 2016.

For a range of different sizes of micro hydro and small hydro system the annual revenue is shown below. These are all based on a typical UK capacity factor of 0.5.

Maximum Power Output Annual Energy Production (AEP) Annual Income
5 kW 22 MWh £2,800
25 kW 110 MWh £13,900
50 kW 219 MWh £27,700
100 kW 438 MWh £55,400
250 kW 1,095 MWh £121,800
500 kW 2,190 MWh £243,500

Also note that the total value of electricity could be around 7 p/kWh more if you can consume the generated energy on-site. This is because rather than exporting it for 5 p/kWh you can use it onsite which means offsetting imported electricity which typically costs around 10 p/kWh.Remember that different sizes of hydro systems qualify for different Feed-in Tariffs, so even though larger hydro systems generate more energy, the annual hydropower income generated doesn’t always scale in line with the annual energy production because a larger system may fall into a lower Feed-in Tariff band. This means that in some situations a smaller hydro system may produce a greater hydropower income than a larger one.

Also worthy of mention, many hydropower sites generate a great deal of positive publicity and ‘green credibility’ through association with clean renewable energy generation. Sometimes the value of this is greater than the revenue generated by the system, but because of its non-tangible nature it has been ignored here.

To see how this translates into a return on investment you need to consider what the project will cost and what hydropower systems cost to operate, then the return on investment can be calculated.

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Are you considering a hydropower project in the UK, Ireland or overseas?

Renewables First have considerable experience and full project capability, from initial feasibility study through to system design and installation.

The first step to develop any small or micro hydropower site is to conduct a full feasibility study.

Contact us about a feasibility study today!

Once complete, you will understand the site potential and be guided through the next steps to develop your project. You can read more about hydropower in our Hydro Learning Centre.

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