Hydroelectric Power Explained

These days, scientists continually search for alternative sources of energy. This is understandable as the conventional sources are starting to get depleted. These experts have developed different systems which convert energy from Mother Nature into electricity. The great news is many of these systems can be easily set up at home.

Hydroelectric Power Generation

Hydroelectricity is the power that is produced when moving waters rotate turbine shafts. This movement is what’s converted to electricity which then powers an electrical generator.

Hydroelectricity has made up 17% of the global electricity production in the year 2012 alone. Hydroelectric plants in the U.S. are currently the biggest producers of renewable power in the country. This number was delivered by the combined forces of hydroelectric plants in 34 states or more. The Hoover Dame, Tennessee Valley Authority and the Grand Coulee Dam are no less than one of the biggest iconic projects in the nation; with Grand Rapids, MI having the first ever DC powerhouse.

Hydropower Technology Optimized

There are three chief hydropower technology categories – impoundment, run of river and pumped storage. Impoundment hydropower system makes use of one more dams for water storage. This potential energy stored in these dams are then converted into electrical power by letting the waters pass from the dams down to the turbine generators at a lower point.

Run of river technology makes use of small hydro which harnesses energy in running water. River water is first diverted and then guided right down a penstock or channel. The running water then ends at the generating house which houses a turbine which, in turn, drives a generator. Any used water is then fed back to the main river.

Pumped hydropower, on the other hand, is a system that works on two dams. The first one is installed much higher than its brother. On off-peak hours, water is pumped up to the higher reservoir making use of electricity from the grid. Off peak hours mean electricity cost is at its lowest. During peak hours, the reverse is done to generate electricity. Among the three, this type is non-renewable.

Hydropower also has its limitations; despite these, it still has a significant role to play in powering up the nation. Hydropower is a mature, renewable electricity-generating technology that can provide electricity requirements at the lowest possible cost. Compared to coal-produced power, hydroelectricity is much cleaner and a lot less costly.

The future of this type of electricity source relies heavily on careful planning. When planned in precision, negative impacts to the environment is minimized. Also, no ecosystems are bound to be destroyed.

Run of river technology is the best way to go if Americans want to use the most environmentally benign technique in the production of hydroelectricity. The future generation must learn how to utilize this technology so that they can continue generating power for everyone.

Pumped-up storage makes use of intermittent solar and wind energy sources, not grid electricity, in pumping water in between the reservoirs.

All in all, the goal for the country should be to decrease it coal dependence in the near future and hydropower has a huge role to play for this objective.

Powering An Average Home

Hydropower systems make use of kinetic energy (or energy in motion). This energy is harnessed from flowing water which turns a turbine that also powers a generator. This generates ample electricity.

Small turbines can actually be used on hill streams that have a flow rate of 15 liters per second. These should generator plentiful power to meet the fundamental electrical needs of any average American home.

Would you want to learn how to use this electrical power source in your home? Pick up the phone and ask a licensed electrician now.

Useful Reference Links

Hydroelectric Power: How it works, USGS Water-Science School
Hydroelectric Energy Explained
Hydropower – Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy
How Hydropower Works
Hydropower Technology and Types of Hydroelectric Power Plants

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