Hydro energy is a renewable energy source that creates only very small amounts pollution or harmful greenhouse gases, such as methane or carbon dioxide. Hydropower is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy that we use today. One of the main benefits to Hydropower is that we do not need to disrupt ecosystems by mining coal or drilling for oil. It also does not create radiation like nuclear energy does. And unlike the unpredictability of wind energy, hydro energy is very reliable. Many Hydro plants have a natural body of water, such as a river or a man made reservoir, that has an endless supply of water. Water will always be flowing as long as the source is full, whereas the wind comes and goes without warning.
There are three main types of hydroelectric power plants which are impoundment hydroelectric, diversion hydroelectric and pump storage hydroelectric. Impoundment hydroelectric are the most common and are plants that utilize a dam that utilized to create a reservoir of water at higher elevations. These dams utilize the gravity flow of water to create clean energy. Diversion hydroelectric utilize natural flowing river currents that use low head turbines to generate electricity. Pump storage hydroelectric is a plant that uses what is called a dual-action water flow system. In this system when the demand is low, water is pumped from the lower levels to the upper levels behind the dam which is stored and used later when the demand for power increases.
Costs of maintaining and operating a hydro plant is very low. There is a small amount of employees required to continually operate and maintain the plant. There are also no real production costs that are associated with hydro energy because the water does not need to be transformed or purified like fossil fuels. Hydro plants can also adjust their intake of water to create more or less power to meet the desired electricity. If power consumption is low, less water is needed, and flow is restricted by the control valve, wicket gates. If energy consumption is high, or there is an emergency need for power, such as a blackout, the gates are opened, flow is increased, and more power is created. Hydro plants have a distinct advantage over other renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by supplying the power grid effortlessly on demand with power.
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