Cromford’s eighteenth century water wheel in England and China’s impressive Three Gorges Dam are subtly connected. Even though they hardly look similar, they’re in fact two crafts of the same human skill: harnessing energy from earth’s blue gold, water.
About hydroelectric energy
Water, humankind’s first power
Water is much more than the basis of life and an essential part of our food chain and hygiene but also, one of mankind’s first forays in harnessing energy through natural resources, hence, hydroelectric power. Based on the 2019 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), total capacity from the world’s hydroelectric power plant amounts to 1,172 GW: about 50% of total renewable power output.
Even if hydroelectric power is the dean of renewable power sources, this hasn’t stopped R&D from increasing its efficiency. Thanks to currently available technology, 90% of water is now transformed in electricity, delivering a three-fold increase in efficiency compared to traditional power sources.
A low carbon footprint and high efficiency are the factors that concur in delivering excellent performance: along the world’s biggest renewable power plants, the top five in this ranking are powered by water.
History of hydroelectric energy
Water and energy. A two thousand year-old connection
How does hydroelectric energy work?
Have you ever wondered how we generate energy thanks to the force of water? Discover how this process is carried out, what types of hydroelectric plants exist, how they work, what types of turbines and dams can be found, and how electricity is distributed. Are you intrigued? Watch the video.
Long-lasting and efficient energy
Flexibility and efficiency
Output from hydro power plants can be quickly adapted to suit new supply-based needs, while its kw/hour costs are very competitive.
The service life of an hydroelectric power plant can potentially span a century: ample time to generate sustainable energy aplenty.
Hydroelectric power plants are carbon neutral, representing a great advantage for both the environment and humankind’s wellbeing.
All the benefits of hydropower
It’s a clean energy source with a long tradition, but it’s also the focus of continuous innovation. It contributes to land reclamation and irrigation in times of drought, in addition to helping to stabilize the power grid.
How much hydroelectric energy is produced in Italy and where
Ogni anno oltre 20mila gigawattora sono prodotte grazie al fotovoltaico e altri 2mila con il solare termico. Il nord Italia ha il maggior numero di impianti, ma in termini di energia pro capite primeggiano le regioni del centro-sud.
Frequently asked questions about hydroelectric
For centuries, the power of water has been harnessed to support communities’ economic development. But hydropower plants are also a way to avoid flooding and to reclaim wetlands. Today, almost 60% of the world’s green energy is generated by hydropower plants. Here are all the answers to your questions about this renewable energy source.
A waterfall made from 24 million light bulbs
The name says it all: Niagara Falls. Located at the American-Canadian border, they’re one of the world’s most valued and visited natural landmarks. Far from being the tallest, what makes them so spectacular is the hugely vast waterfront and its impressive flow rate: roughly 168 thousand cubic meters a minute during an overflow. A natural resource with an extraordinary renewable power potential.
Works on an hydroelectric power plant started out by the end of the nineteenth century, carefully respecting the beauty and relevance of such an iconic natural landmark. Niagara Falls currently see two main power plants, namely, the Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and the Lewiston Pump-Generating Plant. The whole hydroelectric complex generates energy worth roughly 2.4 million kilowatts. That’s enough energy to light up 24 million 100-watt light bulbs at once.