Renewable Energy 101: How Does Hydroelectricity Work?

Renewable Energy 101: How Does Hydroelectricity Work?



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Water — so essential to us all, and yet it still has the potential to further impact our lives in important and positive ways. Hydroelectricity goes by many names — “hydroelectric energy,” “hydropower,” or just plain “water power” — but don’t let that trip you up. It all boils down to harnessing the force of moving water. In this video, you’ll learn interesting hydropower facts and how water power works. Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as water can offer us clean, renewable energy to power our homes, businesses and communities sustainably? We certainly think so!

Transcript:

Renewable Energy 101

Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and is vital to our daily lives. It can also be a clean, renewable, reliable source of electricity.

Hydroelectric energy comes from capturing the force of moving water that’s in our Earth’s rivers and oceans. We do this by using the movement of the water to spin hydraulic turbines. That generates kinetic energy, which is converted to electricity through a generator and then sent to the power grid.

Most hydropower is generated from dams built on rivers and streams, often where there’s a big drop in elevation so gravity can help us out. Dams block the water’s natural flow and force it through a large pipe with the turbine and generator before releasing it back into the stream on the other side of the dam. Today, we know that dams — most of which were built before the 1960s here in the U.S. — can disrupt river ecosystems. There haven’t been many new hydro plants built in the U.S. in a few decades, but some existing dams are beginning to be tapped for their electricity-generating potential, and existing hydro facilities are being upgraded to be less harmful to plants, fish and wildlife. This helps us get the electricity we need by protecting the natural environment around us. Now that’s a win-win!

About: Green Mountain Energy is the nation’s longest-serving renewable energy retailer and believes in using wind, sun and water for good. The company was founded in 1997 with the mission to “change the way power is made.” Green Mountain offers consumers and businesses the choice of cleaner electricity products from renewable sources, as well as carbon offsets and sustainable solutions for businesses.

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