Hydropower (or hydroenergy) is a form of renewable energy that uses the water stored in dams, as well as flowing in rivers to create electricity in hydropower plants.
It’s been an energy source since the late 1800s and today around 20% of the world’s power comes from hydro energy. As a renewable resource, hydro energy is one of the cleanest forms of energy around.
Here are 10 things you might not have known about Hydropower.
- Hydropower uses a turbine to help generate electricity. It uses the energy of falling or flowing water to turn the blades.
- There are more than 100 operating hydropower plants in Australia.
- They’re typically located in areas with high rainfall and elevation, with the majority of Australian hydropower plants located in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
- Australia’s biggest hydropower generator is the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme which has a capacity of 3,800 megawatts, almost half of the country’s total hydro output.
- The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme has nine power stations, 16 dams and 145km of tunnels, it’s one of the world’s most complex integrated water and hydro-electridcity schemes.
- The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme is recognised as an engineering and construction marvel and took 25 years to build.
- Hydroelectric power provides almost one fifth of the world’s electricity.
- Some hydropower plants have what’s known as ‘pumped storage’ which means that at night time, when demand for electricity is low, water is pumped back into the dam so it can be released again the next day when electricity demand is higher.
- Hydropower generation varies each year and depends on rainfall patterns. The wetter it is, the more power that will be generated.
- Hydropower makes up 8 per cent of the electricity in Australia’s National Electricity Market and about 60 per cent of all the renewable energy in the NEM.