Calculating the Power in Your Stream

Computing Water Power
Once you’ve determined Net Head and Design Flow, you can begin to estimate the power output from your hydro system. These computations are only rough estimates; consult with your turbine supplier for more accurate projections. We begin by computing the theoretical power output from your water, before taking into consideration any efficiency losses in the turbine, drive system, and generator. You can compute the Theoretical Power of your water supply as either Horsepower or Kilowatts using one of these formulas: Theoretical Horsepower* (HP) = HEAD (feet) x FLOW (cfs) 8.8

Theoretical Kilowatts* (kW) = HEAD (feet) x FLOW (cfs) 11.81 * Note that these are Theoretical Power equations, which do not account for the inevitable efficiency losses that will occur at various points within your hydro system. The actual power output of your generator will be less, as we’ll discuss later.

Hypothetical Example: A stream in New Zealand has 100 feet of HEAD, with 2 cubic feet per second (cfs) of FLOW. Applying our formula, we find that we should have about 17 theoretical kW available:

kW = 100 (feet) x 2 (cfs) = 16.93 Theoretical Kilowatts* 11.81