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Film on Small Hydro Power
Polish Ecological Club (PKE) Upper Silesian Branch,
(INFORSE member) (new link)
(not available anymore)
age group
 The film is disseminated in schools and PKE circles.

Eeducational Film
Length: 12-15 minutes
Films title: ‘Small Hydropower Plants’


The film's aim is to educate the young people on environmental issues, especially about renewable sources of energy. The film shows practical usage of renewable energy.
1,000 copies were made from the film, which also include the film on biomass.
The project was supported by
- Voivodship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management in Katowice, and
- INFORSE-Europe, as activities supported by EU DG Environmental Civil Society Support in 2005.


Film scenario:

Title: Small Hydropower Plants

Water is the condition of all forms of life on our planet. It has accompanied us from the beginning of times, ensuring heavy crops and survival. It is one of the oldest sources of renewable energy. Mankind learnt over the centuries how to draw more and more benefits from water. Thus, water is currently one of the best-managed sources of energy and has a considerable input in the global energy production.
When it comes to the quantity of the possessed water, Poland is, unfortunately, neither a potentate on the European nor the World scale.

Statistically, for each European citizen fall about 4,560 square meters of surface waters. In Poland it is only 1580 meters. Thus, in this respect we may be compared to Egypt, which is considered to be a dry country.
There are two major rivers in Poland – Wisla and Odra, which constitute two-thirds of the water-power resources. One third of the hydropower potential comes from small rivers, rivulets and streams. They have been utilized for a long time.

All water resources enable us to produce about 11 thousand GWh per year. There are 12 big hydropower plants of the power of 2231 MW. Construction of such plants is very expensive and has a considerable influence on the environment and water nature. Development plans for our country do not cover any major investments in this field, which is justified by financial and environmental reasons.

However, there is space and wide possibility for the development of small and mini hydropower plants.
There were over 6500 hydropower plants in the interwar period. They were mainly mills, corn and flour mills. In the following decades almost all of them were closed or got into ruin. Only 650 of them survived and after renovation and repair gave a base to most of the currently operating small hydropower plants.
According to the statistical data, around 600 of them are in operation and have a power of 200 MW installed in them, which enables the annual production of approximately 1200 GWh. It constitutes less than a half of the big hydropower plants’ production. Small hydropower plants employ about 15000 people.

128 of these plants are in the hands of professional power engineering. The rest are private establishments.
Small hydropower plants have numerous advantages. Here are the most important ones:
- they produce clean renewable electric energy
- they are scattered all over the country, which protects them against disasters and terrorist attacks (as separate enterprises their value in terms of attack objects is smaller)
- failure of a particular hydropower plant causes no hazard to the whole system as it is considered to be only one plant with a little share in the whole network that stops working
- majority of them uses small storage reservoirs, which, due to their size, exert a positive influence on the local water conditions and on the general water retention
- they are basis for numerous recreation and tourist undertakings, thus providing workplaces for many people
Generally, small hydropower plants may be divided into two types:
- plants using small amount of water at its big slope. They are water-power plants situated on brooks and mountain streams
- plants using bigger flow of water at its small slope. Such enterprises are situated in lowlands, where rivers are slow/calm and have a small slope.

Each of these hydropower plants uses different type of turbines adjusted to the slope and extent of the flow.
Many examples may be given here. These are streams where few of such plants operate on few kilometers, e.g. Olczyski Brook in Zakopane, where 5 of such plants are located. Similarly, Lomniczka Brook in Karpacz, where also few plants are in operation.

It needs to be mentioned that land reclamation works following the flood in the river basin of Odra cover not only repairs of the embankment but also construction of few storage reservoirs in tributaries of Odra. A small hydropower plant is constructed on each of them.

These kinds of purposeful actions will enable not only to increase the participation of the water energy in the total national energy balance, but also increase water retention, which amounts in Poland only up to 7-8%. It is merely a half of what is retained in other European countries on the average. Taking into account that when it comes to water resources on our continent Poland is on one of the last countries on the list, retention and appropriate utilization of our surface water amounts into a major problem for the coming years.
Construction of a hydropower plant is relatively expensive. Its cost is three to four times as much as the cost of a comparable power plant operating on coal. However, taking the outer costs into consideration, such as environmental pollution with the emission of harmful gases and dust, necessity of their desulfurization and dedusting, we realize that expenditures on both ways of energy production are comparable. It must be pointed that hydropower plants outlive those operating on coal. Hydropower plants dating back some 80 years are running without any problems.

Meanwhile, a big number of small and medium storage reservoirs scattered all over the country helps to stabilize the level of ground waters and regulates quantity of water in rivers and brooks which they are working on. It is particularly useful in the periods of sudden water rises caused by excessive precipitation. A considerable part of the so called flood wave is then taken by numerous small and medium storage reservoirs, which enables to limit disastrous effects of floods.

Managed storage reservoirs connected with hydropower plants, being places of recreation, stimulate development of the tourist and recreation infrastructure, which creates workplaces for thousands of people.
One more argument for hydropower plants is the possibility of a beneficial sale of the produced energy. There are country councils in Poland, which have invested in such plants and currently obtain substantial profits from selling electric power to professional power networks. It is possible due to the fact that price of the clean hydropower has a statutory higher price than energy produced in traditional coal, oil or gas power plants.
It needs to be mentioned that all investments connected with hydropower plants may obtain aid from the European funds and national environment protection funds, which may finance up to 80% of expenditures.

 The project consisted of writing a film script and making a film.
Description and Evaluation