Benefits Of Hydropower

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Water is, and always has been, the lifeblood of human civilization and a key to our survival. Along with being necessary to sustain all of our bodily functions, water has the capacity to power entire towns. The power of falling water can date back all the way to the Han dynasty (202 B.C. - 9 A.D.), however, the use of industrial-scale hydropower on the global stage wouldn’t begin until the late 1800’s (“A Brief History of Hydropower,” With the ongoing debate that is “clean energy”, the question of whether the nations of the world are effectively utilizing forms of alternative energy also arises. Specifically, I have chosen to do a thorough review of hydropower, and determine if it is being globally utilized.

What is Hydropower?
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According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), “There are three types of hydropower facilities: impoundment, diversion, and pumped storage.” The largest, and most common, hydropower facility is an impoundment plant (“Types of Hydropower,” Impoundment facilities involve the use of water stored in reservoirs to flow through hydroelectric dams, which generates electricity as the water propels a turbine that is connected to an electrical generator within the dam. A diversion style power plant does not use stored water at all, rather, it uses natural occurrences of flowing water. It is not required to have a dam for a diversion facility, as the water of a flowing river or canal can be corralled into a penstock or a canal (“Types of Hydropower”). Now, Pumped storage plants are a set apart from their counterpart plants, as they don’t actually generate any of the power that is retained within them. They act as a retainment unit: Pumped storage facilities store energy from other sources by pumping water from a low elevation reservoir to a high elevation reservoir. When the energy is needed, the water is allowed to flow down to the lower reservoir, which spins a turbine in the same manner as an Impoundment facility. A large hydropower facility is classified by the DOE as having the capability to produce 30 megawatts (MW) of power or more. A micro-scale hydroelectric has a 100 kilowatt (KW) capacity, which is still large enough to power an entire village (“Types of Hydropower”). One could delve into much more elaborate detail on the specific subsets of hydropower, but for this paper, however, we’re focusing on the usage of hydropower. This synopsis is to set the groundwork in understanding the world’s usage of this

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