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NFCRC Tutorial: Hydroelectric

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The harnessing of energy of flowing water by turning water wheels for grinding of grain was practiced as early as Roman times. This resource became important in more modern times with the development of efficient electric generators and transmission technology which allowed the location of hydroelectric plants several hundred miles from the energy users.

photo of a damThe energy that may be recovered from flowing water depends on the quantity of flow of water and the height through which the water can be made to fall from the reservoir to a hydraulic turbine. The construction of diversion and storage dams for hydroelectric power plants requires suitable topography and other site conditions, and a steep drop in the elevation of the river. Construction of hydroelectric plant is capital intensive but the operating costs are low since there are no fuel costs associated with a hydroelectric plant.

Installed Capacity 1,2

The following table provides the hydroelectric power generated in certain countries and the total generated by the world in 1995.

 

China

Japan

Mexico

Norway

Sweden

U.S.

World

10 KWH

175

80

27

121

67

308

2,456

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References

1. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/world/country

2. ftp://ftp.eia.doe.gov/pub/energy.overview/aer/aer11-19.txt