The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 January 2005

Whatever floats your volts

It's called "Pico Hydro," and it means pretty much what you think it does: hydroelectric power on a very small scale. James at the Alternative Energy Blog explains:

The streams at the bottom of the valleys are powering a low-tech grid for the people of Da Bac [province in northern Vietnam].

Pico Hydro units need only a constant water supply and a slope with a one-metre drop. This produces a flow rate that can drive a turbine fast enough to generate electricity, providing houses with a direct power supply.

In some villages nearly every household has one. Imported 300-watt turbines cost about US$20, and have proved to be the most popular.

Certainly you're not going to run a modern American home on 300 watts, but it's enough for a few lights into the night, and maybe the radio. About 120,000 Pico Hydro units are installed in Vietnam, says James, and while they're not incredibly reliable — obviously you're not getting mil-spec for twenty bucks — they're easy, and cheap, to fix.

Posted at 7:02 PM to Family Joules


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» Daily linkage from BatesLine
Here's a spot-on parody of National Review's group blog, "The Corner". (Hat tip: Overtaken by Events, which also has news about the tsunami relief effort led by their church, St. Gabriel's United Episcopal Church in Springdale, Arkansas.) Don Danz reme......[read more]

It'd be nice for power outages.

Posted by: Ravenwood at 8:37 PM on 13 January 2005

Indeed, even if it lasted only long enough for me to fumble my way to wherever it was I left my lantern.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:23 PM on 13 January 2005