Much like solar and wind power, hydro energy has been a constant energy source for man. Following is an overview of hydro energy.
Hydro energy can be defined simply as using the energy of flowing water to generate power. With early man, this power was experienced in the form of propulsion as in moving wheels to grind food materials. With modern man, hydro energy is used to power turbines that produce electricity. In cases such as the Three Gorges Dam in China, hydro energy can be the basis of providing huge amounts of energy to countries in need.
Let’s take a look at some historical and modern facts about hydro energy:
- Hydro energy was used by the Greeks to turn water wheels for grinding wheat into flour, more than 2,000 years ago.
- In the 1770s, French hydraulic and military engineer Bernard Forest de Bélidor wrote Architecture Hydraulique, a four-volume work describing vertical and horizontal axis machines.
- 1880 - Michigan's Grand Rapids Electric Light and Power Company lit up 16 arc lamps by generating electricity from a water turbine at the Wolverine Chair Factory.
- 1881 - Niagara Falls city street lamps are converted to power provided by hydro energy.
- 1882 - World's first hydro energy power plant goes into operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin.
- 1886 - 45 hydro energy electric plants exist in the U.S. and Canada.
- 1889 - Two hundred electric plants in the U.S. use waterpower for some or all generation.
- 1901 - First Federal Water Power Act.
- 1907 - Hydro energy provides 15% of all electricity in the United States.
- 1920 - Hydro energy provided 25% of all electricity in the United States.
- 1933 - Tennessee Valley Authority established.
- 1937 - Bonneville Dam, first Federal dam, begins hydro energy production on the Columbia River.
- 1940 - Hydro energy provided 40% of electrical generation in the United States.
- 2003 - About 10% of U.S. electricity comes from hydro energy as population growth, increased power needs and environmental issues reduce reliance on hydro energy.
- Today, there is about 80,000 MW of conventional hydro energy capacity and 18,000 MW of pumped storage in the U.S.
- Hydro energy produces about 20 percent of the total electricity in the world.
- Canada is the largest producer of hydro energy in the world.
- The U.S. is second followed by Russia, Brazil and China.
- Norway produces almost 100 percent of its electricity through hydro energy.
Many people are surprised when they read facts about hydro energy. Few realize it is used to produce so much electricity in the world.