Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Engineering (Research)


Institute of Technology Tralee

First Advisor

Dr. James Prendergast

Second Advisor

Mr. Chris O'Donoghue


Ireland has become overly dependent on oil imports and is now very vulnerable to price increases and oil supply shortages. Coupled with this, demand for electricity has grown rapidly in recent years, the electricity market structure has changed, environment protection is of greater importance, and overall the need for renewable energy powered electricity generation has increased. Wind powered electricity generation facilities play an important role in Ireland’s renewable energy portfolio but other methods of power generation are necessary to complement this variable and unpredictable resource. Hydroelectricity is a well-established method of power generation capable of fulfilling this role. Large-scale hydropower (>10MW) is becoming a less attractive option due to the documented environmental impacts of large dams and manmade lakes. This has led to a renewed interest in small-scale hydropower (<10MW). The purpose of this study is to investigate the technical, environmental, planning and financial aspects of developing small-scale hydropower (SHP) in Ireland. The research also provides useful guidelines to developers and small communities who intend on utilising fresh water rivers for electricity production. The research will identify the best approach for developing SHP in Ireland. It will compare various river flow assessment techniques and investigate various types of micro hydro generators and turbines presently on the market. The environmental aspects of SHP will be discussed and recommendations given on how to minimise the environmental impact of such schemes. Two rivers in the South West of Ireland with SHP potential will be investigated and a design for an ideal low impact micro hydropower generation station for each location will be presented. An investment analysis will be conducted to investigate the financial viability of each scheme. Overall, it has been shown that small-scale hydropower is a financially feasible, efficient and environmentally friendly resource. This can be a power resource which is capable of providing electricity to remote communities in Ireland.

Access Level