What Is Hydropower?
Hydropower, or hydroelectric power, is one of the oldest and largest sources of renewable energy, which uses the natural flow of moving water to generate electricity. Hydropower currently accounts for 31.5% of total U.S. renewable electricity generation and about 6.3% of total U.S. electricity generation.
How Does Hydropower Work?
Hydropower technologies generate power by using the elevation difference, created by a dam or diversion structure, of water flowing in on one side and out, far below, on the other.
What is the Cost of Hydropower?
Hydropower is an affordable source of electricity that costs less than most. Since hydropower relies only on the energy from moving water. Compared to other electricity sources, hydropower also has relatively low costs throughout the duration of a full project lifetime in terms of maintenance, operations, and fuel. Like any major energy source, significant upfront costs are unavoidable, but hydropower’s longer lifespan spreads these costs out over time. Additionally, the equipment used at hydropower facilities often operates for longer periods of time without needing replacements or repairs, saving money in the long term.
What are the Benefits of Hydropower?
The benefits of hydropower have been recognized and harnessed for thousands of years. In addition to being a clean and cost-effective form of energy, hydropower plants can provide power to the grid immediately, serving as a flexible and reliable form of backup power during major electricity outages or disruptions. Hydropower also produces several benefits outside of electricity generation, such as flood control, irrigation support, and water supply.
The History of Hydropower?
The history of hydropower dates back thousands of years. For example, the Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat into flour more than 2,000 years ago. The evolution of the modern hydropower turbine began in the mid-1700s when a French hydraulic and military engineer, Bernard Forest de Bélidor, wrote Architecture Hydraulique. Many key developments in hydropower technology occurred during the first half of the 19th century, and more recently, the past century has seen several hydroelectric advancements that have helped hydropower become an integral part of the renewable energy mix in the world.
Approximately 71% of all the renewable electricity generated on earth is from hydropower. The 2022 Hydropower status report finds that the global installed hydropower capacity rose by 26 GW to 1360 GW in 2021.