Hydropower is the power derived from the force or energy of moving water. Hydropower is the leading source of renewable energy that provides more than 97% of all electricity generated by renewable sources.
The productive capacity and reliability make hydropower far more efficient than fossil fuel plants, which are usually about 50% efficient.
Hydropower is merely generating electricity through the power of moving water. The energy in streams and rivers can be quite powerful, making hydropower one of the oldest energy sources on Earth.
To understand how far hydropower has come over the years, let’s take a look at a few hydropower facts.
The history of hydropower spans over 2000 years ago when the ancient Greeks used water wheels to grind grain. Later, in the 19th Century, British-American engineer James Francis developed the first modern water turbine, as hydropower became an electricity source.
Soon, the world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operating in the United States in 1882. Hydro Power plants have been developed to full potential in most of the developed countries for their advanced technology and infrastructure.
Let’s take an in-depth look at hydropower facts to understand the concept of this energy source more.
20 Interesting Hydropower Facts
Fact 1: Hydropower uses the energy of moving water for a variety of useful applications. Worldwide, about 20% of all electricity is generated by hydropower. Hydroelectricity produces power by harnessing the gravitational force of falling water.
Fact 2: Most hydroelectric power stations use water held in dams to drive turbines and generators, which turn mechanical energy into electrical energy.
Fact 3: A small number of countries, including New Zealand, Paraguay, Venezuela, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, and Brazil, produce the majority of their electricity through hydropower.
Pharping Hydropower Plant, the first hydropower plant in Nepal, is one of the oldest hydropower plants in Asia. It was established in the year 1911, while the first hydropower plant was built in 1912 in China.
Fact 4: Hydroelectricity is renewable energy, but building the extensive facilities can have adverse impacts on the environment.
Fact 5: Hydropower has been used to power watermills for thousands of years, although cheap electricity has become the primary option in modern times. The most common watermills grind grains into flour.
Fact 6: Tidal power is another form of hydropower; it uses the energy of tides to generate electricity. Here’s how it works.
Fact 7: Out of all other power sources, hydropower has the best CO2 performance, highest energy efficiency rate, and longest life span. Hydropower prevents the burning of at least 22 billion gallons of oil and 120 million tons of coal.
Fact 8: During days when there’s no wind or sun, hydropower with reservoirs provides the required backup energy to sustain other renewables with intermittent service and ensures electricity supply. Also, by storing water, hydropower reservoirs reduce our vulnerability to floods and droughts.
Fact 9: Hydropower is available in a broad range of project scales and types that can be designed to favor particular needs and specific site conditions.
Fact 10: Hydropower equipment at dams can facilitate the natural movement of fish and other wildlife around dams and between river sections.
Fact 11: According to the International Hydropower Association (IHA), if 80 percent of the remaining economically feasible potential is developed, the contribution of hydro could be nearly multiplied by three.
Fact 12: Despite being a clean source of energy, hydropower still poses some danger to the environment. Some hydropower leads to low levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, which can have a detrimental effect on aquatic life.
Fact 13: About 16% of the total amount of electricity used across the globe comes from hydropower. It’s worth noting that Brazil, China, and the United States are some of the leading producers of hydroelectric power in the world.
Fact 14: The population that doesn’t have access to electricity lies somewhere around 1 billion, and 2.1 billion lack safe water supply. Hydropower is an affordable and reliable source of low-carbon power and freshwater management for that population.
Fact 15: The hydropower industry directly employs more than 2 million people worldwide, and many more in connected supply chains.
Fact 16: Hydropower reservoirs are a crucial means of freshwater management, providing supplies for industry, agriculture, homes, and also reducing the impacts of floods and droughts.
Fact 17: Hydropower costs less than most energy sources. In terms of operations, maintenance, and fuel costs, it has a low cost when compared with other electricity sources.
Fact 18: During major electricity blackouts, hydropower can prove to be quite useful. The hydro plants can send electricity to grids immediately, and quickly shuttle backup power to where it is needed.
Fact 19: World leaders and scientists see hydropower as a strong renewable resource for the future. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), hydropower output could be double by 2050. It is estimated that current production could triple if all resources were to be harnessed.
Fact 20: The modern hydropower turbine can convert more than 90% of the available energy into electricity than natural gas, fossil fuel and nuclear.
Renewable energy sources have become the road to a sustainable future. Among the various options in the renewable road, hydropower is one of the largest sources of energy. With a higher reliability rate than fossil fuels, the potentials of safe and controlled energy use are boundless.
Hydropower accounts for roughly 20% of the worldwide demand for electricity. In comparison with other sources of energy, hydroelectric power is one of the cheapest, non-carbon emitting, non- polluting, and mature energy sources.
It has both positive and negative aspects. However, hydropower offers more positives than other sources despite the environmental challenges it faces.