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Introduction

Hydroelectric power is a form of energy from a renewable resource: water. Over the years, hydroelectric power has gained popularity with many countries embracing it as a source of electricity. In the United States alone, this form of energy accounts for a massive 96% of all renewable energy sources (Brown, 2006). The advocacy for hydroelectric power-plants lies on the principles of non-pollution of the land, water and air. It is imperative to note that electric power industry has been revolutionized by the utilization of hydroelectric power and the rapid expansions of hydroelectric power developments all over the world. Furthermore, increasing energy needs posed by rapid growing populations and industrial development has led to the embracement of hydroelectric power.

How Power is Harnessed?

Hydropower plants generate hydropower. Large water reservoirs such as large dams act as batteries that hold power that waits to be released. The reservoir is connected to a penstock that brings the water to a fast-moving turbine. The force created by the water turns a motor, thus producing electricity.

Sources of Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric power is derived from water in motion such as rivers and streams, waterfalls and lakes. Water in falls moves by the force of gravity and is in turn used to turn water turbines and generators. The process is used to produce electricity.

Amount of Power Produced

The production of energy varies depending on the size of hydroelectric power plants. According to the Bureau of Reclamation Power Resources of U.S. Department of the Interior, a total of fifty eight power-plants in the western U.S. produce 42billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. This electrical energy is equivalent to 72 million barrels of oil.

Benefits

Hydroelectric power has an ability to efficiently respond to the changing needs and the varying loads that are the instrumental characteristics of power systems. In addition, hydropower demonstrates a great ability to adequately respond to system disturbances as compared to other systems that are powered by nuclear processes. Hydroelectric power does not pollute environmental resources such as land, air or water. This way, the communities involved in hydropower projects are not faced by environmental hazards (Kammen& Pacca, 2004).

The construction of water reservoirs and dams in the production of hydroelectric power also benefits communities in activities like irrigation, flood control, improved navigation, secure water supply and fishing.

Drawbacks

Although hydroelectric power is a clean form of renewable energy, it is argued that the source of electricity will not meet the increasing demands over the next decade. This will ultimately lead to supplementary energy production from fossil sources (Brown, 2006).

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