It’s very reasonable to ask yourself, how does hydropower work?

Before we get in to it however it’s worth knowing that hydropower is actually an older source of energy than fossil fuels like coal or gas. Before the idea of a power plant was conceptualized, watermills were being turned by running water in the form of kinetic energy and powered the mills. The water wheel is turned by this kinetic energy and in turn allows a mechanical process (the mill) to produce material goods, like flour.

Today, hydropower is more commonly used in reference to hydroelectricity. Or more simply the process of taking kinetic energy from running or falling water and generating electricity. This blog post will aim to give you a better understanding of how that process happens.


A bit of background 


Hydropower, waterpower, hydroelectricity whatever you want to call it is a green, renewable energy source. The process derives power from running or fast falling water. Kinetic energy in turn is used to produce electricity. 

Cragside, Northumberland was the world’s first house to be fully powered by hydroelectricity all the way back in 1878. A year later, across the pond, the first commercial hydroelectric plant was built in Niagra Falls. Then around 1881 the hydroelectric plant began powering street lamps in the city of Niagra falls. 

Hydropower has evolved over the years but the basics remain the same. There are different forms of hydropower but the main process of generating electricity has not changed. It’s a cost effective method of generating electricity without producing harmful emission like greenhouse gases.


How does hydropower work?


Hydroelectricity comes in many forms, but all forms use hydropower to generate electricity. You have the typical and most common impoundment dam hydro station, diversion power that works using a running river and finally pumped hydro storage that uses a higher level and lower level reservoir. 

Despite the different versions they all act the same as they will all involve running water, whether it is released from a reservoir or from a dam or even from a running river. Running water is classed as kinetic energy,  the movement can be used to generate other forms of energy or be harnessed as kinetic energy.  

The kinetic energy in this instance is harnessed and used to turn a turbine. From this point on the station uses the typical process of generating electricity. The turbine powers a generator that in turn generates the electricity. 


Thanks for taking the time to read this post, have a great day! 

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