Hydropower | Fast Facts | How It Works | Current Events | History of Hydropower | Advantages | | Disadvantages | Bibliography


Hydropower, hydraulic power or water power is power that is derived from the force or energy of moving water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes.

(expand slide show for more information on pictures)

My Stance

I highly recommend the use of hydropower in the United States.
The information below should convince the Obama administration that
we should be using this, the best over all source of renewable energy in

Hydropower and Humanity
Humans have used the power of moving water for thousands of years, but have yet to understand its full potential in our world.
Hydroelectric energy is the most renewable form of natural energy, one of the cleanest forms of energy and one of the most cost effective,
but we are only using 13% of land available to produce electricity hydroelectrically! The human race has come a long way when it
comes to the use of hydroelectricity. The Greeks used water wheels to grind their flour 2,000 years ago. Recently, it was confirmed
that new underwater turbine technology is fish friendly! The world needs to take steps to making such technology the norm.

Fast Facts

• The world’s leading renewable resource used to produce energy
• 3rd cheapest way to produce electricity environmental costs are concerned
• It produces 99% of Norway’s electricity
o 21% in China’s
o 75% in New Zealand
o 7% in the United States
• China plans to double its output of hydro power produced energy by 2020
• Tides and waves can also be used to produce electricity
• In 2006, Verdant Power began installing six underwater turbines to tap the tidal flow of the East River near New York City

How It Works

Hydropower-water flowing from higher to lower elevations in rivers and streams that is controlled by dams and reservoirs and used to produce electricity.

http://www.odec.ca/projects/2007/truo7j2/hydropower-plant-usbr-hoover.jpg picture


Hydropower is power derived from the force of moving water, as explained in the above diagram.
The turbines spin as a result of the forceof the moving water and generate electricity, which powers generators
which send electricity into the attached lines. There is huge potential for our world when it comes to the construction
of these dams, but dams have some negative effects on a number of things.

Tidal Energy

Tidal energy is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of the tides into energy.
The predictability of tides makes it an appealing source of energy. Its easier to predict the flow of the tides than the weather(for solar).

Tidal Stream Generators are a technology very similar to wind turbines.


Tidal Energy Case Studies http://www.microhydropower.net/casestudies/

Current Events

-Obama administration gives 11 million to hydropower research

The administration has dedication 37 million in stimulus funds to energy research. The money will be
distributed to energy development groups across the United States.

-The Three Gorges Dam, China

-China's monstrous dam spans the length of the Yangtze river, all of 7,761 feet.
-Its construction has displaced over 1 million people, and is putting previously endangered species at greater risk.
-Chinese officials say that the dam will satisfy 4% of the nation's thirst for energy.

-Drought leads to trouble in Venezuela

There are some risks to putting all of one's energy needs into hydropower, as Venezuela is learning now.
Drought has caused the turbines to begin to spin slowly, and it is predicted that they will soon slow to a stop.

-Radio-toting fish give new type of hydropower thumbs up

The building of dams poses an environmental threat, and was a necessity until recently.

Hydropower in the United States

A prototype designed by Hydrovots is about the size of a refrigerator and costs around $13,000.
It produces about 20 kw of power

Underwater Turbine Technology
Recent studies have shown certain underwater turbines, like the animation shown above,to be
entirely fish friendly. (see current events page) Below is a description of the power, courtesy of
Verdant Power, a company dedicated to producing clean, renewable energy from oceans, streams
and rivers. There are six of these such turbines in the East River in New York. (http://verdantpower.com/)


History of Hydropower

Humans have been harnessing water to perform work for thousands of years. The Greeks used water wheels for grinding wheat into flour more than 2,000 years ago. Besides grinding flour, the power of the water was used to saw wood and power textile mills and manufacturing plants. In 18892 the world's first hydropower station in Wisonsin produced 12.5 kw per hour.

For more than a century, the technology for using falling water to create hydroelectricity has existed. 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. In this four volume work, he described using a vertical-axis versus a horizontal-axis machine.

During the 1700s and 1800s, water turbine development continued. In 1880, a brush arc light dynamo driven by a water turbine was used to provide theatre and storefront lighting in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and in 1881, a brush dynamo connected to a turbine in a flour mill provided street lighting at Niagara Falls, New York. These two projects used direct-current technology.

Alternating current is used today. That breakthrough came when the electric generator was coupled to the turbine, which resulted in the world's, and the United States', first hydroelectric plant located in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1882. (Read more about the Appleton hydroelectric power plant on the Library of Congress web page.)


Advantages of Using Hydropower

- Moderate to high net energy
- High efficiency 80%
- Large untapped potential

o Only 13% of usable space is being used for it
- Low cost electricity
- Long life span

- No CO2 emissions during operation in temperate areas
- Can provide flood control below dam
- Provides irrigation water
- Reservoir useful for fishing and recreation

- Provides irrigation water
- Reservoir useful for fishing and recreation


Despite its numerous advantages, there are some reasons for countries to steer clear from hydropower.
Building traditional dams can cause a number of problems.

-Flooding can deplete and destroy the natural habitats of species (see the Three Gorges Dam page)
-The flooding can also cause a problem for humans. The Three Gorges Dam's construction has cause
the displacement of 1.3 million people

-During times of drought, the lack of water could lead to a scarcity in electricity.
Venezuela is dealing with this issue currently

- Construction of dams is not always cost effective. The construction of the Hoover dam cost 49 million dollars.

- Dam failures can be catastrophic events. For example, When the Banquiao Dam in China burst in 1975,
approximately 26,000 died in the flooding and another 145,000 died from the subsequent famine and disease.

Calculating the negative effects from building dams or constructing turbines must be viewed in the spectrum of construction.
The acquisation of the most commonly used form of cement, Portland Cement, is made out of heating limestone. The mining of limestone can cause aesthetic problems; quarries can be an eyesore.
Toxicants could be released into the atmosphere via the transportation of such limestone or perhaps the mining of the rock.

The construction of the Three Gorges Dam in Yangtze, China required the use of 10.8 million tons of cement
1.6 million tons of timber were used to construct the dam

National Policy regarding hydropower.


Joe Holden, Inventor of the first afterburner for Jet Engines at Rolls Royce, applies his knowledge to Sustainable Energy. He shows us a Min Hydro Plant that uses his proprietary "Compression Tube" technology that can make a meter squared hydro plant to power 100 homes.( Youtube)

One of China's last remaining undammed rivers, the video discusses the way that the Nu province harnesses energy from the river.

Denny Klein just patented his process of converting H2O to HHO, producing a gas that combines the atomic power of hydrogen with the chemical stability of water. "it turns right back to water. In fact, you can see the h20 running off the sheet metal." Klein originally designed his water-burning engine for cutting metal. He thought his invention could replace acetylene in welding factories. Then one day as he drove to his laboratory in Clearwater, he thought of another way to burn his HHO gas. "On a 100 mile trip, we use about four ounces of water." Klein says his prototype 1994 Ford Escort can travel exclusively on water, though he currently has it rigged to run as a water and gasoline hybrid. (youtube)

BMW Hydropower Car- embedding disabled by request


"$11 Million Dedicated To Water Power Research - Renewable Energy World." Renewable Energy World.com Renewable Energy World - Renewable Energy News, Jobs, Events, Companies, and more. Renewable Energy World Network. Web. 22 Jan. 2010. <http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2009/08/11-million-dedicated-to-water-power-research?cmpid=WNL-Wednesday-September2-2009>.

"History of Hydropower." Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program. US Department of Energy, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 21 Jan. 2010. <http://www1.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/hydro_history.html>.

"Hydropower." Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 20 Jan. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydropower#Issues>.

Miller, G. Tyler, and Scott E. Spoolman. Living in the Environment. 16th ed. Brooks/Cole. Print.

"The Rite Project." Verdant Power. Verdant Power, 2009. Web. 20 Jan. 2010. <http://verdantpower.com/>.

"The Three Gorges Dam Project - Constructing the Largest Dam in the World." Imperial Tours - Luxury Tour Operator for China. Web. 19 Mar. 2010. <http://www.imperialtours.net/3gorges_dam.htm>.