Facts About Hydroelectric Energy


Ocean tides, streams, waterfalls and the hydraulic cycle itself are natural examples of the raw power of water. The most collectable and obtainable way to harness waterpower is to force the water to run down hill or find a natural occurrence of this and capture it and channel it. Hydroelectricity is by definition electricity generated by the production of hydropower through use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. Since man learned to use water strategically this has been the number one source of renewable energy in the world.

Hydroelectricity as a viable option for powering your home has been brought to people's attention in news and popular culture and appears a wise option giving the climate of our current energy crisis and the need for new green jobs in our economy.

Sundance channel's 'The Green' featured an episode where the family built a downhill water canal. Users of hydroelectricity produce no waste once the hydroelectric complex is constructed. However man made dams are constructed which does alter the environmental factors for humans, animals and plant life. To make things worse for fragile fish species, hydroelectric dams are equipped with rapidly moving turbines that can be deadly to entire species. This affects not just the fish but their place in the food chain for us humans as well.

Lake Mead is a one hundred and ten mile long reservoir and a popular water sports spot where water can be release and spilled from Hoover Dam to produce more or less hydroelectricity as needed. Inventions are being made to help encourage unity between natures and man made dams such as the use of 'fish ladders' around dams built in the Columbia River which allow Salmon to 'step up' the dam to their natural spawning ground.

The majority of dams still are design and used for their original purpose of providing irrigation for farming and flood control.

Some of our most powerful natural waterways include the Columbia River on the Washington, Oregon border or Niagara Falls in New York. When the water flow or fall is harnessed whether it is naturally occurring or created from a plant such as the Hoover Dam, the water flows thru a pipe or penstock, then pushes against and turns blades in a turbine to spin a generator to produce electricity. In the United States over half of hydroelectric power is generated in Washington, Oregon and California. The Grand Coulee Dam in Washington is the nation's largest hydroelectric facility responsible for producing 27% of hydroelectric generation. Oversees, the Rogun Dam across the Vakhsh River in southern Tajikistan is the highest dam in the world at 335 meters, although this could have been altered slightly by a flood at the dam in the mid 1990s.

There are not a ton of large sources of hydropower than this yet because to build a plant we still need the natural occurrence of a large plot of slopping land and a waterway. All the elements must be just right and it is a plus if the Dam provides flood control as well as power to the people who live around it.