The goal is to engineer the most efficient way(s) to harvest energy from rainfall using moderately advanced technology. My idea was to use this as widespread power source for a race of people that frequently have to deal rainfall. The technology level is space age but would of course started out as more crude and primitive. Unlike photovoltaics which are fairly recent (1800), this technology would be far more developed due to being simpler and centuries of optimisation. It would have started out as a simple means of spinning a wheel to powering a large part of their planet.
Given the Earth's surface area the globally averaged annual precipitation is 990 millimetres. Depending on their size, raindrops fall between 15 and 25 miles per hour no matter how high they are when they begin their descent. The average raindrop has a radius of about 0.2 cm and a mass of about 0.034 grams. That is (excuse my poor math) 3.825J to 10.625J of energy per raindrop on average. There are two means of harvesting electricity from rain; water turbines and nanogenerators. Neither method is more efficient than photovoltaics, however rain power is based on gravity. This is interesting because in theory: the higher higher the harvesting device, the more energy that can be produced.
New research has found a method that could generate enough power from a single droplet of rain to light up 100 LED bulbs. That's a big jump forward in efficiency, in the region of several thousand times.
This is all very exciting but for now still remains in the experimental stage. Regardless I'd like to use this as a staple in my worldbuilding because it's clean renewable energy based on the water cycle. The difference from solar farms will be the design of the technology, which I think will be more vertical than solar panels which focus on covering a wide surface area. There's also the advantage of rainwater harvesting for use in households. So I'd like to know what design would be best for devices that harvest energy from rain.