Hydropower has become increasingly common in recent years. It is used to provide electricity. In France, it is the most widely used source of renewable energy. But how does it work? And what are its advantages compared to other renewable energies?

What exactly is hydropower?

Hydropower is generated by the force of rivers. It can be powered by waterfalls, rivers or streams. Unlike other sources, it is permanent, because the water never stops flowing!!! A hydropower plant is generally composed of :

  • A dam that serves to retain water
  • A power plant that is intended to produce electricity, consisting of diversion canals, large turbines…
  • And a system for generating power lines that will transport the electrical energy to the grids

The energy obtained is used immediately. And even if the installation is quite expensive, it saves money in the long run. In addition, hydropower emits few greenhouse gases. Therefore, the employment contributes to the preservation of the environment.

What are the advantages of using hydropower?

A hydropower plant is capable of producing up to 67 TWh of electricity per year. This is equivalent to the consumption of more than 9 million people. Indeed, it is the second most used energy in France, as its use has a positive impact on the environment:

  • a low emission of greenhouse gases, to fight against air pollution
  • a reduction in the use of exhaustible sources to combat global warming
  • an increase in the attractiveness of tourism
  • creation of new biotopes
  • flood protection

In addition, hydropower or hydroelectricity is also more accessible compared to other renewable energies.

For your information, it is classified as a renewable energy because it is inexhaustible, i.e. it comes from a natural phenomenon that reproduces itself regularly.

But how does it work?

Hydraulic energy is supplied by waterwheels or hydraulic turbines. But the water would have to reach a sufficient level or a precise flow rate for the machine to work properly. In most cases, the power stations are connected to a large water reservoir located upstream of the dam. With this technique, the water level can be maintained and the flow can be controlled. The water passes through the turbines and will be discharged through another gallery. A propeller turbine or a Francis turbine can be found. Although hydropower requires a significant investment, its environmental impacts encourage people to opt for this solution, which can be economical in the long term.