Hydroelectric power is the term colloquiallyused to describe the process of harnessing thegravitational potential energy associated withflowing or falling water.
• Hydroelectric Energy generation occurs when flowing water turns a turbine, which produces electricity. There are several subsets of hydroelectricity generation… – The most conventional, and recognizable, is the dam method. This is where water stored in a reservoir flows through a dam and falls into a river below. – The pumped storage method is where water is allowed to flow between two different reservoirs with different heights. – Run-of-the-river energy generation is when there is little water storage capacity.
• Hydroelectric energy generation depends, of course, on lots of water. The river or lake that is used must have a large capacity and flow rate. This restricts the number of areas that can generate, and many good areas in the South West are already taken.
• Hydroelectricity generated 3,427 Terawatt hours of power in 2010, which makes it the most widely used renewable resource at 16 percent of global energy production.• Hydroelectricity needs very little maintenance, so has the smallest operation costs.• Hydro has the most ‘flexibility’ of all types of energy generation, the flow can be adjusted very quickly to accommodate fluctuations in demand.• Hydro plants emit no waste and very, very few greenhouse gases as compared to coal plants.• The reservoir created by the dams can provide ecological habitats or recreational areas for the public.
Sayano Shushenkaya hydro plant inSiberia, on 16 August 2009. 75 peopledrowned or were lost, oil poured into • Most of the sites that could support a plant arethe river and use- there Russia’s energy for currently in 10% of are very few good spots generation.supply was cut off. • The water flow and new reservoir disturbs wildlife, is very expensive to build, and usually messes with water supplies downstream. • The system is very dependent on rainfall. No rain, no energy. • A lot of people underestimate the power of water. When accidents at hydroelectric power plants occur, they are very damaging. The remedy is very simple- properly maintaining the dam and generators.
• There are currently 6 hydroelectric power plants in Texas: The Denison Dam, Falcon Dam, Mansfield, Morris Shepphard Dam, Tom Miller and Wirtz Dams.
• Hydro plants are in 34 of the 50 states spread out over 2400 dams. This puts America in 4th place for generation, behind China, Canada and Brazil. In 2008, hydro power produced 66.8% of all US renewable energy, and is still growing. 30 countries utilize hydropower and although it doesn’t generate much power, 99% of Norway is powered with this type of energy.