Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Micro-hydro in Historic Buildings

Micro-hydro in traditional buildings

Micro-hydro in traditional buildings

Micro-hydro is an uncommon renewable technology. Very few of us have a river or reasonable-sized burn in our back garden to convert this energy into electricity.

However, it does have a long history in Scotland. Before the national grid was established across the country, many rural estates used small scale hydro in the early 20th century.

Find out more about how hydroelectricity works with the Energy Saving Trust.

Installation of micro-hydro technology

You will need a watercourse with a consistent, year-round flow and some amount of vertical drop to capture it.

Installation methods vary depending on what watercourse they draw from.

For your historic home, suitability will depend on the nature of the system. Consider the visual impact of modern turbines and Archimedes screws (an alternative to turbines or waterwheels).

There could be heritage gains for historic estates, like the reinstatement of a historic waterwheel.

Read about the reinstatement of a 20th century hydro system at Blair Castle in Perthshire.


While micro-hydro systems vary significantly, this type of technology will likely require an extensive annual service due to the number of moving parts which will accumulate wear and tear.

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