Hydroelectric Technology

Hydroelectric Technology Today

Hydroelectric power continues to be the most used renewable energy resource in the United States.  The US is projected to consume 2.4 quadrillion Btu of hydroelectric power in 2016.  The US EIA provides state by state data of hydroelectric production.  The Pacific region of the United States produces the most hydroelectric power.  This region includes California, Oregon, and Washington.

Recently the EPA and the Obama administrations released the Clean Power Plan in 2016.  This plane proposes to reduce the carbon emissions by the year 2030.  Hydroelectric Power was mostly excluded from this new incentive plan.  Even though hydroelectric power has seen many successful projects in the past, the time frame for new large scale projects does not fit with this incentive plan.

Even with the possible slow down from the Clean Power Plan, hydroelectric technology has advanced greatly over the past several centuries and even the past few decades.

The origins of hydroelectric technology date back to around the 5th century BC, where water wheels were used for irrigation purposes.  Water wheels were also used along with large grinding stones to assist with grinding corn and other agricultural products.  Original water wheels were not used to generate electricity, but were a stepping stone towards modern hydro technology.

The 1800’s was a big century for hydroelectric technology when new and more innovative water turbines were designed that could pass more water and could operate while completely submerged in water.  These turbines could be used to provide electricity in homes nearby.  In the 1930’s in the US large scale hydro technology was on the frontier of hydro power with the construction of the Hoover Dam.

Today hydroelectric technology has advanced towards small scale micro-hydro turbines available to consumers for their homes.  A micro hydroelectric system can be used to provide home to a single home.