Hydro power is electricity created from the force of running water. It is less expensive than mining fossil fuels and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. Unlike other renewable sources like the sun or wind, water can be stored which makes it a great way to create electricity.
Rivers, dams and waterfalls can be used to generate hydro-electricity. Hydroelectric stations are built where there is running water. The most common are located in dams, where water is stored.
To make hydroelectric power, water from rain or melting snow is collected and stored in the dam. The flow of this water can be controlled with the opening and closing of the gates or pipes. The dam wall can also create a high water level, which creates more pressure in the pipes to the turbine.
A large pipe carries the water from the dam to the turbine. The pressure of the water pushes against the blades and turns the turbines. The rotating turbine is connected to a generator which makes the electricity.
The electricity then travels through transformers and transmission lines to your home and school! The first hydroelectric generation facility was built on the Fox River in the United States in 1882. It produced enough electricity to light two paper mills and a house.
Hydroelectricity provides around 10% of the electricity generated in Australia and 18% throughout the world.
The most famous source of hydroelectric power is the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.
Advantages of using energy from water
- It is renewable
- Hydroelectricity produces no gas emissions or waste
- It is more reliable than solar and wind power – because water can be stored and there is more of it, more often.
- Hydroelectric stations are inexpensive to operate.
Disadvantages of using energy from water
- Large dams take up large areas of land and can cause fish and other animals to relocate.
- Plantlife can be affected by a change in water quality.
- The power stations are expensive to build.