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Hydropower Electric Projects

  • Hydropower is electricity generated using the energy of moving water. Rain or melted snow, usually originating in hills and mountains, create streams and rivers that eventually run to the ocean. The energy of that moving water can be substantial, as anyone who has been whitewater rafting knows.

  • This energy has been exploited for centuries. Farmers since the ancient Greeks have used water wheels to grind wheat into flour. Placed in a river, a water wheel picks up flowing water in buckets located around the wheel. The kinetic energy of the flowing river turns the wheel and is converted into mechanical energy that runs the mill.

  • In the late 19th century, hydropower became a source for generating electricity. The first hydroelectric power plant was built at Niagara Falls in 1879. In 1881, street lamps in the city of Niagara Falls were powered by hydropower. In 1882 the world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operating in the United States in Appleton, Wisconsin.

  • A typical hydro plant is a system with three parts: an electric plant where the electricity is produced; a dam that can be opened or closed to control water flow; and a reservoir where water can be stored. The water behind the dam flows through an intake and pushes against blades in a turbine, causing them to turn.

  • The turbine spins a generator to produce electricity. The amount of electricity that can be generated depends on how far the water drops and how much water moves through the system. The electricity can be transported over long-distance electric lines to homes, factories, and businesses.