HOW DO WE GET ENERGY FROM WATER?
Hydropower, or hydroelectric power, is a renewable source of energy that generates power by using a dam or diversion structure to alter the natural flow of a river or other body of water. Hydropower relies on the endless, constantly recharging system of the water cycle to produce electricity, using a fuel—water—that is not reduced or eliminated in the process. There are many types of hydropower facilities, though they are all powered by the kinetic energy of flowing water as it moves downstream. Hydropower utilizes turbines and generators to convert that kinetic energy into electricity, which is then fed into the electrical grid to power homes, businesses, and industries.
HOW EXACTLY IS ELECTRICITY GENERATED AT HYDROPOWER PLANTS?
Because hydropower uses water to generate electricity, plants are usually located on or near a water source. The energy available from the moving water depends on both the volume of the water flow and the change in elevation—also known as the head—from one point to another. The greater the flow and the higher the head, the more the electricity that can be generated.
At the plant level, water flows through a pipe—also known as a penstock—and then spins the blades in a turbine, which, in turn, spins a generator that ultimately produces electricity. Most conventional hydroelectric facilities operate this way, including run-of-the-river systems and pumped storage systems.
WPTO's Hydropower e-newsletter features news on R&D and applied science to advance sustainable hydropower and pumped-storage technologies.
WPTO brings funding opportunities, events, publications, & activities related to hydropower and marine energy directly to your inbox.