Hydroelectric Power – The Science of Water Movement

The science of water flow is important to understand if one wants to comprehend the potential of hydroelectric power.

The water cycle is essential for continually renewing the water supply to support hydroelectric power.  Water from the earth’s surface evaporates into the air, then condenses into the clouds, then later rains back towards the earth, resupplying the oceans, lakes, rivers and reservoirs that support hydroelectric power systems.

Water is an abundant resource on our planet and commonly exists in liquid form on earth.  The liquid form of water is what is needed for hydroelectric power creation.

Gravity is an important factor in the science of water movement because water that is found at a high elevation may eventually fall to a lower elevation because of gravity.  Water that falls due to gravity will accelerate and gain momentum.  Water that has momentum is able to pass over the blade of a hydro turbine and spin the blade, giving the turbine the mechanical energy needed to create electricity in a hydro turbine generator.

Hydroelectric power exploits the water cycle, gravity, and the density of water to generate electricity.  Since water is much more dense than air, hydroelectric power is able to harness the mechanical energy from water at a much higher efficiency than a wind turbine can from the less dense air.