Hydro power is the term usually applied to the power/electricity created from the force of running water. It is generally less expensive than the mining of fossil fuels and does not contribute to greenhouse gases and climate change. Unlike other alternative energy sources like the sun or wind, water can be stored which makes it a great way to create electricity.
Hydroelectric stations are built where there is running water, ie. rivers, dams and waterfalls, which can all be used to generate hydro-electric power. However, the most common locations are in dams, where water is stored.
To produce hydro-electric power, the water from rain or melting snow is collected and stored in a dam and then the flow of this water can be controlled through the opening and closing of the gates or pipes. The dam wall creates a high water level, which in turn creates a higher water pressure in the pipes to the turbine.
A large pipe carries the water from the dam down to the turbine, where the pressure of the water pushing against the blades, turns the turbines. The rotating turbine is connected to a generator which then produces electricity.
Interesting fact: Hydro-power is currently the leading source of renewable energy, providing more than 97% of all energy produced from renewable sources. Other renewable sources – solar, wind, biomass and geothermal – account for only 3% of the energy currently produced
Advantages of using energy from water
- It is renewable
- Hydro-electricity 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 result in the relocation of fish and other animals.
- Plant-life can be affected by a change in water quality.
- The power stations are expensive to build.