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Hydroelectricity. By J ett Wheelhouse 9-1 Science. How does it work?.

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By Jett Wheelhouse

9-1 Science

how does it work
How does it work?

Hydroelectricity works by harnessing the potential energy of flowing water. Gravity pulls water downstream, where it meets and turns the blades of a hydroelectric turbine. The turbine shaft turns the generator rotor, and that creates electricity in the same manner as with other electrical generators. While large hydroelectric plants that are part of a larger dam structure are common in the popular imagination, there are hydroelectric plants that use straight river flow and do not involve dams. Other models that are micro-generators and use ordinary streams to generate power.

  • In terms of reliability and consistency, hydroelectricity is way ahead of its other renewable energy counterparts. No wonder then, that hydroelectric power is a preferred choice of power, not just for small scale industries, but also for heavy duty industries and manufacturing plants.
  • Hydroelectric power is completely independent. It does not involve any combustion or burning of fuel, coal, etc. and therefore, does not release any toxic chemicals in the atmosphere and nor does it create any harmful by products.
  • Unlike many other forms of energy, power generation is almost instantaneous in case of hydroelectricity. In a hydroelectric power plant, starting the turbine or stopping it is a process that hardly takes a few minutes.
  • The operational cost is quite low and it is also a clean way of producing energy. Also, the water can be reused for things such as irrigation, therefore losses are minimal.
  • Also, the large volume of water in the reservoir often serves the purpose for recreational activities such as water sports, which make the location a tourist spot as well.
  • One of the major disadvantages of hydroelectricity is the need for a large enough reservoir. Constructing a large reservoir is a major challenge, both in terms of time and money.
  • Regardless of how strong and unbreakable a reservoir may seem, there is always the theoretical risk of the reservoir giving way in the event of unexpected heavy and prolonged torrential rain.
  • In some cases, constructing a reservoir or damming a river at a certain location may lead to adverse ecological effects on its immediate surroundings.
  • Since the amount of power generated depends largely on the altitude difference between the reservoir and the turbine, finding a suitable place for both the reservoir and the turbine often becomes a problem.
  • Droughts can have a severely adverse impact on hydroelectric power generation.
  • Silt is a problem that adversely affects quite a few reservoirs, and consequently, the respective hydroelectric power plants as well.