Hydro -- Obtaining the Resource

The three Gorges Dam From Internatioalrivers.com
The three Gorges Dam From Internatioalrivers.com
ll over the world hydropower is used, mostly in places with lots of water. Rivers, dams, oceans, and waterfalls on all continents exept Antarctica can support hydropower. The top hydropower power producing states in the U.S are:

1. Washington
2. Oregon
3. California
4. Montana.

About 31% of total U.S. hydropower generated in Washington. Ninety nine percent of Norway’s electricity is produced by hydropower. When people build hydropower plants, it is always easier on a river or near a natural waterfall. As of 2004, the biggest hydro-electric power plant in the world is in the Snowy Mountains, Australia. In Sweden and Switzerland, mountains have waterfalls, which allows for good hydraulic plants.

Dams are built on rivers utilize the running water to make electricity. In China there are about 90,000 small dams that provide most towns and cities with some of their electricity. The Three Gorges Dam is the world's largest dam, and located in China. The dam is 1.5 miles long and 597 feet high. The most powerful station in the world is the Itaipu power station on the Parana River in South America. . The Safe Harbor Dam on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania has elevators lift shad from bottom of dam to top of reservoir. Our nation’s largest hydroelectric facility, the Grand Coulee Dam, is located in Washington. The ten largest dams in the world are:
What countries produce how much hydropower From earth.rice.edu
What countries produce how much hydropower From earth.rice.edu

1 Three Gorges Dam
2 Itaipu Dam
3 Guri Dam
4 Tucurui Dam
5 Grand Coulee Dam
6 Sayano Shushenskaya Dam
7 Krasnoyarskaya Dam
8 Robert-Bourassa Dam
9 Churchhill Falls Dam
10 Logtan Dam

South America’s most electricity is produced by hydropower. A wave machine in Scotland generates lots of electricity, enough to power 200 homes. The world's first commercial wave farm was in Portugal. The estimated potential off coasts of United States is 252 billion kilowatt hours a year, about 6% of the United States electricity.


In Canada, The Bay of Fundy has some of the world’s largest tides.The biggest tidal power station is built across the River of Rance in La Rance, France.

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The main w
Penstocks from panoramio.com
Penstocks from panoramio.com
ay to obtain hydropower is with a dam which harvests the energy of falling water. There are two types of dams, the modern and embakement dams. A modern dam produces energy, controls flooding and lessens the effects of droughts. An embakment dam, however, uses gravity to make electricity. Dams contain three parts: the dam, a reservoir, and a plant. When the gates of a dam are opened the water flows out o
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f the reservoir and through an intake screen that filters out large debris but lets fish pass. Next, the water flows down a large pipe called a penstock. Then, the flowing water spins a turbine at a speed low enough for fish to go through. The spinning turbine causes a generator to produce electricity. Finally the water continues downstream and the electricity is transported out of the plant.

Click here to take a walktrough of hydraulic damWaves

Waves occur when the sun warms the air creating wind and the wind blows over the water making waves. There are two main types of wave devices:
  • floating-Floating wave systems rest on top of the water, far away from the shore. One wave device is called the Salter Duck. The waves push the Salter Duck up and down. This causes a pendulum to swing inside the device in order to spin a turbine.
    A Salter Duck from jeron.je
    A Salter Duck from jeron.je
    The spinning turbine then produces electricity. There is also a floating wave device called the Pelamis P-750 which is a floating wave energy device. It sits on the water and is only partly submerged. Waves move the hinged sections of the machine. As a result, a generator is powered and produces electricity.
  • fixed-Another way to harvest the power of the waves is with a fixed device. An important fixed device is the Oscillating Water Column. Waves push air into a chamber in the device. The air is forced upward so that a turbine turns. When the wave moves back the air rushes back down the chamber turning the turbine a second time. The moving air powers a generator which produces electricity.

Waves can also be harnessed by bending or focusing the waves into a narrow channel, and the waves spin a turbine.


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Tides can also be a source of energy. This can be done by building a tidal barrage across an estuary (where fresh and salt water mix). There are only three tidal barrage stations in the world. When the tides come in sluice gates open and close behind the water. The flowing water spins turbines which power a generator. When the tides go out again the gates are opened so that the rushing water turns the turbines again.

Click here to go to hydropower's advantages page