How is hydroelectricity generated?

Hydroelectric power is a renewable energy source which harnesses the power of moving water to produce electricity.

The hydroelectric process starts long before you turn your light on at home or work.

Large scale hydroelectricity projects typically involve dams. Run-of-river and tidal projects also harness the power of moving water to generate renewable electricity.  

A hydroelectric dam converts the potential energy stored in a water reservoir behind a dam to mechanical energy—mechanical energy is also known as kinetic energy. As the water flows down through the dam its kinetic energy is used to turn a turbine.

The generator converts the turbine’s mechanical energy into electricity.

This electric energy then goes through various transmission processes before it reaches you.

Check out this video from the United States Department of Energy for more information on how hydroelectricity is generated:

Curious about the energy terminology used in this piece? The U.S. Energy Information Administration's website has an easy-to-understand overview of energy terms like potential energy and mechanical/kinetic energy.

Here are some links to additional resources to learn more about hydroelectricity:

B.C. Hydro: how hydro power is generated

U.S. Department of Energy: how hydropower works

Ontario Power Generation: hydroelectric power 

Is hydroelectricity a renewable energy source?
In a word — yes!
How is hydroelectricity generated?

Moving water can provide the power you need to light up your room and charge your cell phone.

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