Facts about Hydropower

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The onset of 21st Century has led to many developments in science and technology and there is also a growing need for the amount of energy generated in today’s world.

While scientists around the globe have been credited for various breakthroughs in science, there is one aspect that has left them perplexed. Energy and its resources!

With the ever rising prices of fuel and coal, one can almost guess that these resources are declining at an exponential rate.

The world has thus shifted their focus on harnessing power from renewable sources of energy, one of the oldest being that of hydropower.

Hydropower is harnessed from running or falling water.  The facts are given below.

1. Hydropower is one of the oldest power sources on the planet.

Almost 2000 years ago, the concept of hydropower was first implemented by the Greeks to turn water wheels for grinding wheat into flour. The first hydropower plant was built in 1879 at the Niagra falls. The power was used to light the street lamps in the area. Following this, hydropower has become a major source of energy since the 19th century.

2. Hydropower is an efficient source of energy as some turbines achieve an efficiency of 95% and more.

If water is available at a point much higher than the ground level, it has the potential energy of lifted water. It is poured down through pipes to water wheels at a much lower level. This results in the water wheels going around. This motion of the wheel is the basis for generation of electricity thus yielding higher energy.

3. Hydropower today provides about 20% of the world’s electricity and is the main energy source for more than 30 countries.

The United States makes most use of hydropower in comparison to the other countries in the world.

4.China is the largest producer of hydroelectricity, followed by Canada, Brazil and the United States.

Dams in China account for 20% of the total number of hydropower generating dams in the world.

5. Another type of hydropower called pumped storage works like a battery.

In a pumped storage plant, energy used for pumping water is derived from other energy sources. The stored water is then used to generate hydroelectric power when in demand.

6. The Aswan dam in Egypt is used to harness hydropower from the longest river in the world.

The Aswan Dam, built across the river Nile helps generate hydropower.  It also controls the annual flooding of the river downstream. Though initially considered an advantage, it was not as the floods contained nutrient rich silt which became unavailable to the lands following the construction of this dam.

7. Of the 150 countries generating hydropower, Africa produces the least.

The hydropower generated in Africa accounts for only 3% of the total hydropower produced in the world.

8. Impoundment hydropower creates reservoirs that offer other recreational activities like fishing and boating.

Impoundment hydropower facility consists of a dam that stores water in a reservoir. When required, the water is released from the reservoir to drive a turbine. This helps generate electricity.

9. Hydropower helps regulate the flow of electricity to homes and stations. Unlike the other sources of renewable energy, hydropower projects can increase or decrease the amount of electricity being generated.

10. Hydropower can be generated by large hydro station dams or a number of small hydro stations. The small hydrostations are preferred as they have minimal impact on the environment.

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