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The Environment

Hydropower Energy

What is hydropower?

Hydropower is power that is generated from moving water such as rivers.

Renewable Energy

Hydropower is a renewable energy source. This means that using a dam or a river to generate electricity doesn't use up any limited resources like coal or gasoline.

How do we get power from water?

Falling or flowing water from a big river has a lot of energy. We can harness this by forcing the water through a pipe called a penstock. As the water flows through the pipe it turns the blades of a turbine which spins an electric generator. As long as the water is flowing, the generator will be able to provide electricity.

Hydroelectric power from a dam
Electricity can be generated by water moving through a dam

There are three main ways that engineers design hydroelectric power plants:
Go here to read about the ocean power technologies tidal and wave power.

History of Hydropower

Using rivers to power mechanical devices is not a new concept. As far back as ancient times, thousands of years ago, people used hydropower to perform tasks such as grinding grain into flour. In the late 1800s scientists first figured out how to use hydropower to generate electricity. The first hydroelectric power plant was built in Wisconsin in 1882. Since then, many more power plants have been built in the United States including the Hoover Dam in 1936 and the Grand Coulee Dam in 1942.

Are there any drawbacks to hydropower?

Like any power source there are some drawbacks to hydropower. One drawback is the loss of land and the damage to the local ecosystem caused when a lake is created by a dam. This can also cause people to have to relocate and leave their homes. Another disadvantage is methane emissions generated by the reservoirs. Dams and turbines can also hurt fish and disrupt their migration to spawning grounds.

Fun Facts about Hydropower

Environmental Issues
Land Pollution
Air Pollution
Water Pollution
Ozone Layer
Global Warming
Renewable Energy Sources
Renewable Energy
Biomass Energy
Geothermal Energy
Solar Power
Wave and Tidal Energy
Wind Power
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