The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) in the US celebrates hydropower projects that avoid or significantly reduce their environmental impacts by voluntarily committing to science-based criteria designed to protect rivers. It recognises the importance of hydropower as an important part of the climate solution and works closely with scientists and conversationists, utilities and operators, and power buyers and regulators to balance ecosystem and climate outcomes.

“We are so fortunate to see all kinds of hydropower projects,” says Shannon Ames, Executive Director of LIHI. “Our certification programme recognises that hydropower projects of difference sizes, locations, and age can be incentivised to be less impactful on our river systems. Over the past several years, we’ve been pleased to also see innovative ‘firsts’ in the form of hydropower technologies address environmental needs.”

Examples of these innovative projects include:

  • The Hanover Pond Dam Project located on the Quinnipiac River in Meriden, Connecticut. This project is the first dam in the US to generate power using the Archimedes Screw Turbine, a system which generates energy using a large, slow turning screw which creates power while also safely allowing fish to pass downstream.  The owner, New England Hydropower Company, LLC, redeveloped the original 1850 dam and was granted Low-Impact certification in early 2020.
  • The Freedom Falls Project located on Sandy Stream in Freedom, Maine is the site of the first commercially operational Restoration Hydro Turbine (RHT), designed to safely pass large fish at low head hydropower projects. The RHT is designed by Natel and installed on a dam that dates back to 1834 and had been abandoned since 1967 before being redeveloped in 2013. It received Low-Impact certification in 2021.