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Hydroelectric Power Facts

Hydroelectric Power is until this day the number one renewable green energy source in the world in terms power output. It is also the first used renewable energy sources, RES, for the production of electricity. The first hydroelectric plant was built at Niagara Falls, Canada, in 1879 and in 1882 the first hydroelectric plant operated in USA at Appleton Wisconsin.

What is Hydroelectric Power?

Hydroelectric power refers to the electricity produced from the power of water- Hydro in Greek is water. The power of the water can be due to the power of running water flowing in a river; it can be due to the power of a natural water fall like the Niagara Falls or from the flow of water from a man-made dam.

Interesting Hydroelectric Power Facts

Some interesting facts about Hydroelectric Power are the following:

  • Niagara Falls is the most famous and well known hydroelectric plant in the world
  • About 20% of the total world’s produced electricity is produced from hydroelectric power.
  • Hydroelectric Power accounts for 10% of the electricity produced in the USA.
  • 99% of the electricity produced in Norway is from Hydroelectric Power while in New Zealand the percentage is 75%.
  • The lifespan of hydroelectric plants is around 200 years.
  • Hydroelectricity has a significant contribution in the reduction of the pollution of our environment since it prevents the burning of the equivalent of 22 billion gallons of oil per year.
  • Out of the 10 largest hydroelectric power plants in the world, 2 are in China, 2 are in Canada, 2 in Russia, 2 in Brazil, 1 in the USA and 1 in Venezuela.
  • China is the largest producer of hydroelectricity in the world. USA is currently the fourth largest producer with a great potential.
  • The state of Washington is the largest consumer of hydroelectric power in the USA.
  • 99% of the energy produced from renewable energy sources in the USA is from hydroelectric power
  • 60% of the electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the USA was produced from hydroelectric power.
  • There are 4 main-stream classes of technologies used at the hydroelectric plants. These are: conventional, microhydro, run-of-river, hydrokinetic and pumped storage.
  • There are 3 hydroelectric power plants in the world which are bigger than 10 GW. These are the China’s Three Gorges Dam, Brazil’s Itaipu Dam and Venezuela’s Guri Dam.
  • Hydro generators can start producing electricity within 90 seconds and this makes them suitable for backup generators in case of failures.
  • There are more than 100 hydroelectric power plants in Australia which produce the majority of the renewable energy produced in the country

Hydroelectric Power Economic Facts

There are some interesting and important economic facts about Hydroelectric Power which are usually ignored and these are:

  • Hydroelectric power eliminates the cost of fuel in the production of electricity
  • Increases in the cost of fuel does not affect the cost of production of electricity from hydroelectric plants
  • Hydroelectric plants have a longer live than corresponding fossil fuel depended plants
  • Hydroelectric plants have low labor operating costs since their operation is fully automated and few personnel are required on site.

Hydroelectric Power Plant Energy Facts

The amount of energy produced by hydroelectric power plant where we have falling water is easily calculated using the formula:

Power= Height of water falling x Water Flow x Efficiency /11.8

Power is found in Kilowatts, KW, where 1KW is 1000 watts

Height of water falling means the distance the water falls, measured in feet, till the turbine

Water flow refers to the rate of flow of water. The unit used is cubic feet per second

Efficiency is the efficiency of the turbine which is used to convert the power of the falling water into electric power

11.8 is the factor which converts the units of feet and seconds into KW

With the above formula you may find the Power output of a hydroelectric plant and know its impact in the electricity supply of the surrounding area.

The yearly consumption of a residence in the USA is about 3000 KWh per person thus a family of 4 living in an average home consumes 12000 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Hydroelectric Power Forecast Facts

Several studies are done in order to examine the potential of hydroelectric industry and its impact on the economy of the USA.  A recent study, commissioned by the National Hydropower Association, about the future of the hydroelectric power industry till the year 2025 was conducted with 2 scenarios. The first scenario was the business-as-usual scenario with the 10% renewable energy generation and the second was the accelerated scenario with 25% renewable energy generation requirement. The results which are shown below indicate that in both case the industry had a potential of creating thousands of new jobs.

The US renewable energy supply from 2005 – 2014 is shown in the chart below and the importance of Hydropower in the overall energy supply from renewable energy sources can be pictured easily.

Based on data collected from all around the world it is estimated that by 2015 the installed capacity of hydroelectric power will be over 1,100 GW. The most growth of hydroelectric power is expected to be in Asia, India and China, and in Latin America.

As a concluding remark we should note that hydroelectric power was, is and will be the most important renewable energy source for the years to come and certainly until 2025.  You may find more Hydropower and hydroelectric energy facts and figures in one of our articles.