Use alternative hydropower sources to supply clean power, boost local livelihoods and climate resilience, restore river ecosystems, and diversify renewable energy generation.
Alternatives to large-scale hydropower exist, including mini, micro, and pico hydro systems, which are often community-based and utilize the natural flow of water. Water has been harnessed for electricity since the nineteenth century, mostly using large-scale dams and river diversions that cause significant impacts to local communities and ecosystems. Today, much of the focus is on pumped storage hydro (PSH), which moves water from a lower reservoir to a higher one when electricity demand is low, thereby providing storage for energy generated by wind and solar arrays used to pump the water. However, PSH can have damaging effects on communities and ecosystems. Alternative hydro systems provide clean, reliable energy to communities, incentivize the restoration of rivers and watersheds, boost local livelihoods, and contribute to climate resilience. Although they have limitations, they can be an integral part of diversified, decentralized renewable energy (DRE) systems, complementing wind and solar.