How Does Hydropower Generate Electricity?

How Does Hydropower Generate Electricity?

Hydropower is a renewable energy source that uses water to generate electricity.

Hydropower plants use the force of moving water to spin turbines, which in turn power generators that produce electricity. Hydropower is a clean and renewable energy source, but it does have some environmental impacts. Dams can impact fish migration patterns and disrupt local ecosystems. Hydropower plants can also affect water quality and quantity.


There are three types of hydropower plants: impoundment, diversion, and pumped storage.

Impoundment plants, also called dams. A dam is built across a river to create a reservoir of water behind the dam. The water is released from the reservoir through a pipe called a penstock. The force of the water turning the turbine spins the generator to create electricity.

Diversion plants (Run-of-the-river) divert some of the flow of a river or stream into a canal or penstock. The water then returns to the river downstream of the power plant.

Pumped storage plants have a reservoir of water at a higher elevation than the power plant. Water is pumped from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir when electricity is plentiful and cheap. The water is released from the upper reservoir through a penstock to generate electricity when demand is high.

Hydroelectricity is the electricity produced by hydropower, which is the generation of electricity from water. Hydroelectricity is one of the most popular forms of renewable energy, and it is used in 149 countries. The United States is the largest producer of hydropower in the world, followed by China.

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