Hydropower energy is energy that comes from water that moves.  Most of this type of energy is from water that is found in smaller bodies of water such as in a river.

What Kind of Energy is Hydropower?

Hydropower is a renewable energy source.  Renewable energy means that this will never be used up.  We will always have rivers and dams, and this is a big part of hydropower.

How Does Energy Come from Water Sources?

When water flows from different waters such as from river to river, the water goes into a pipe that is called a penstock.  The penstock collects the water and when the water goes in, it causes the turbine blades to move and spin.  When the water flows, the turbine blades will cause an electric generator to move and this will make electricity.

Parts of Hydropower Plants

There are three different parts of a hydroelectric power plant.  These include pumped storage system, storage system, and run-of-the-river system.


Pumped Storage

Pumped storage is a system that pumps water back into the reservoir by using a pump.  This pump works all night long when there is less energy that is used.  More electricity is used to pump the water back to the top of a dam where the reservoir is then filled up.

Storage System

The storage system uses a dam that is put in the river.  This dam causes the water that is flowing to go slower, and it stores the water at a lack that is at the bottom of the dam.  When the waterfalls, it causes pressure that forces the water to go through the dam and causes the turbine generator to spin.

Run-of-the-river System

The run-of-the-river system is when turbines are used when the river flows.  These do not make lakes and they do not cause there to be flooding.  This type of system does not hurt the environment as much as the other systems do.

The problem with this system is that if the river does not stay full, it will not produce electricity.


Why Is Hydropower Not Always Good?

Hydropower is not always good because it can cause there to be damage to the environment.  This type of power can also cause there to be flooding.

When there is too much flooding, it can cause animals and people to lose their homes.

Another problem with hydropower is that it produces methane, and this can hurt the fish in the water.

Facts About Hydropower:

  • Hydropower was discovered in the 1800’s.
  • Wisconsin built the first hydropower plant in 1882.
  • The Hoover Dam is part of a hydropower plant.
  • Grand Coulee Dam is another hydropower plant.
  • There are more than 2,000 hydropower plants in the United States.
  • Most dams that are in the United States were not made to be used for hydropower electricity.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is hydropower?  Hydropower is electricity that is made using dams and rivers.
  • How does hydropower work?  Hydropower works with the flow of the river or the dam and it moves and causes the turbine blades to move which produce energy.
  • What is a problem with hydropower?  Hydropower causes methane to be released and it can be bad for the environment and can cause flooding.
  • What are the three parts of a hydroelectrical power plant?  The three parts of the hydroelectric power plant are the pumped storage system, the storage system and the run-of-the-river system.
  • What type of energy source is hydropower?  Hydropower is a renewable energy source which means that it will never be used up.