Hydropower

How we use water for energy!

What is hydropower? and it's history

Hydropower is using water to make energy, specifically through dams.

The use of dams began in the early Middle East in about 3000 BC. Then the dam was 30 feet tall and 3.3 feet wide. Since then, there have been different models. An example of one of those models is the water wheel, which we used during the Industrial Revolution. Now we use modern dams all over the country.

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How does a dam work?

So the water flows from the reservoir through the intake. Once through the intake, it leads it's way to the turbine through the penstock. The water spins the turbine making the kinetic energy to mechanical energy. After that we have used the water, we don't need it anymore so we discard it into a river. Then the generator above converts the mechanical energy from the turbine into electrical energy. The generator does this through coils that force the electrons to go through the coils, making electrical energy. Then the generator is connected to a long-distance powerline, and we have power!

Does hydropower harm the enviroment?

Here is a list of how dams harm the environment:


  • blocks fish migrations
  • changes a flowing river to a still body of water>>>>this means that the reservoir isn't safe for most aquatic organisms
A way to fix these problems is to maybe move the fish and animals to the river where the water is flowing and they can get past the dam.
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How much does it cost to build a dam?

Since the size of dams differ tremendously, there is no set price for a dam. Just to give an example, the largest dam in the United States is the Hoover Dam (shown above). This dam was built in 1931 and cost $49 million($750 million in today's money). This dam is 220 acres squared. The Hoover Dam gives 4.5 billion kilowatt hours in a year. That translates to about 1.4 million watts produced in a day and that means that about 977 watts are produced every minute. Your iPhone charger uses 5 watts to charge your phone.