Hydroelectric power is the biggest source of renewable energy in the world, contributing 71% of renewable electricity.
Not sure what exactly hydroelectricity is, or how it can benefit your home and the planet as a whole? Follow our guide to learn everything you need to know about the clean, renewable, green energy source.
The term ‘hydro’ is of Greek origin, meaning water. Therefore, hydroelectricity is simply electric power generated through water.
Moving water has been used for many years to generate power, and in more recent times, it has grown to become the leading source of renewable electric energy.
The largest hydro plants are currently located in China, Brazil, Russia, Canada and the US.
Hydroelectricity is energy generated through the power of flowing water, which spins a turbine connected to an electric generator. Due to water’s predictable nature, hydropower is actually one of the most dependable and reliable sources of renewable energy.
Hydro generators can vary tremendously in size, ranging from as small as 50kw up to a whopping 2,000kw, like the Hoover Dam.
Usually, a hydropower system is constructed via three elements: a power plant from which the electricity is produced, a river or dam that can be opened and closed to control the flow of water, and finally some form of reservoir in which the water can be stored.
With such a simple yet innovative system in place, you have a great level of control on the flow of energy, which is of course a huge advantage, particularly if you are using it with other renewable energy sources such as wind power or solar panels.
In 2017, thanks to hydropower replacing coal in many countries, “the world prevented up to 4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases – and avoided a 10 per cent rise in global emissions from fossil fuels,” reports Hydropower.org.
In total that year, there was enough hydropower electricity generated to provide electricity for one billion people.
While hydropower creates free, stable and clean energy, there are a few criticisms of this renewable energy source, one being that the initial construction of the large-scale plants can be costly and can potentially disrupt ecosystems and local surrounding communities.
There are four different types of hydro energy:
It is not unusual for the above technologies to sometimes overlap and entwine in bigger, more varied hydropower systems.
Hydroelectricity currently contributes 16% of the world’s electricity. Considering that this is the most popular and widely used source of renewable energy, we still have a long way to go before we’re completely renewable and sustainable, no longer damaging planet earth with fossil fuels and unnecessary waste.