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Project Drawdown


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus


Small Hydropower

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  • This article explores small, in-stream hydropower as a climate solution, how this power source differs from large hydroelectric dams, and the emissions reductions and financial benefits of increasing small hydropower.
  • Students will learn about the feasibility of this solution, the economic investment required, the economic savings after they are installed, and the benefits to nature and the climate when carefully designed projects are implemented.
Teaching Tips


  • The article is in the format of a scientific paper but is brief and approachable.
  • The adoption scenarios in this article are precise and thoughtfully crafted, and some of the rationale behind the creation of these scenarios are provided.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The first link in the References section works but the other three are broken.
  • If you click a link in this article you won't be taken to a new tab.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of how most power plants create energy using turbines and basics about climate change and greenhouse gases.


  • Students can use this article for an informative essay on different types of renewable energy.
  • Students can read this article at home to prepare for an in-class discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of hydropower and the amount of hydropower in America's electric grid.
  • Students can compare this solution to others involving renewable energy from Project Drawdown's Table of Solutions.
  • Students with low reading stamina can be placed in groups, with each group member responsible for a different section of the article. Students can then come together with their group members, each giving the key details from their section. The teacher can also listen to these "teaching" portions of group discussions as a formative assessment.
  • Some students, especially those who are new to reading scientific articles, may benefit from guided notes or a graphic organizer to assist with comprehension as they read this article.
Scientist Notes
This resource underscores the impact of small hydropower generation and its efficacy in solving energy needs in remote locations. It provides an analysis of how the natural flowing rivers around many settlements can be utilized to provide a clean and practically limitless supply of electricity, rather than investing in costly electric transmission networks or transferring fossil fuels to power generators. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4. Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
      • HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-6. Evaluate claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-7. Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.CI.11–12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of an informational text and analyze how they are developed and refined over the course of a text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex account or analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
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