Hydro is the Greek for water and hydropower is power or force inherent in flowing

water. It is one of the oldest methods of producing power and a story goes that a
caveman fastened some sturdy leaves on a pole and placed it in a swift moving
stream and held some grains tied in a piece of leather against the moving spindle
of leaves. Such was the force of the moving water that the spinning pole crushed
the grains! This may have been the first instance of utilizing hydropower which
was to have tremendous significance later down the ages. hat is interesting is that
even if unawaringly man had realized the potential force of water and this was no
child!s play! Hydropower is power that is derived from the force or energy of
moving water" which may be harnessed for useful purposes.
#rior to the widespread availability of commercial electric power" hydropower was
used for irrigation" and operation of various machines" such as watermills" te$tile
machines" sawmills" dock cranes" and domestic lifts. %arly uses of waterpower date
back to &esopotamia and ancient %gypt" where irrigation has been used since the
'th millennium () and water clocks had been used since the early *nd millennium
(). +early *,,, years ago the Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat into flour.
#laced in a river" a water wheel picks up flowing water in buckets located around
the wheel. The kinetic energy of the flowing river turns the wheel and is converted
into mechanical energy that runs the mill. -ther early e$amples of water power
include the .anat system in ancient #ersia and the Turpan water system in ancient
)hina.
Turpan" located in the Turpan /epression" 0in1iang" )hina" is a vertical tunnel
system adapted by the Turpan people. The Turpan system was crucial in Turpan2s
development as an important oasis stopover on the ancient Silk 3oad skirting the
barren and hostile Taklamakan /esert. It has been recorded that in the 45th
century" )hinese engineers built machines that used the energy in waves rising and
falling with the tides to crush iron ore.
The 6anat technology is known to have been developed by the #ersian people
sometime in the early 4st millennium (). 7The 6anats are underground conduits
which collect the water from an a6uifer on the slope of a hill and e$ploit the
natural gradient of the land to transport the water underground to the agricultural
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areas below. The conduits 8 which are usually 9,:;, cm. wide and <, cm to 4.9
meters high 8 vary between 4 km and =, kms in length. Their rate of discharge is
between a litre per second and 9,, litres per second.!>The 6anats of Iran %dward
Goldsmith ? +icholas Hildyard ? @anuary 4" 4<;AB
7ater is the source of life. ater is fluid" soft" and yielding. (ut water will wear
away rock" which is rigid and cannot yield. Cs a rule" whatever is fluid" soft" and
yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard...soft is strong.! commented
Dao:Tzu >',, (.).B
Hydropower generation is based on the rotation of turbines. The early caveman
used leaves to do the task .However the history of mankind is the history of his
constant striving towards something better and this is also true of the turbines that
are vital to generate hydro power. The history of the modern turbine can be traced
to a Erench hydraulic and military engineer" (ernard Eorest de (Flidor. (orn in
4'<; in )atalonia" Spain he was a Erench military and civil engineer but his
interest has always been in mathematics" artillery" and hydraulic" civil" and military
engineering. His association with hydropower can be traced to his book
Crchitecture Hydrauli6ue. In this four volume work" he described using a vertical:
a$is versus a horizontal:a$is machine in turbines. Incidentally the first references
to watermills found in Greek" 3oman" and )hinese te$ts describe vertical water
wheels in rivers and streams. These traditional water wheels turned as the river
flowed" turning millstones that ground grains.
The development of water turbines has received significant contribution from
(enoGt Eourneyron. (orn in Saint:Htienne" Doire on the 54
st
of -ctober" 4;,* this
Erench engineer started applying the mathematical techni6ues of modern science to
the ancient mechanism of the waterwheel.
The history of the modern water wheels can be dated back to the late 4=,,s and is
focused on -liver %vans" inventor and engineer who was born in +ewport"
/elaware. Ct the age of 22" %vans was hired to produce cards for combing wool.
He however proved his ingenuity by designing a device that would mechanically
produce card teeth for combing wool. This was a path breaking invention because
instead of turning out 9,, teeth a minute" it actually produced 4"9,,. This had an
advantage : the mass:produced teeth proved superior to the hand:made ones.
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hat made %vans famous was his water wheel. He harnessed the energy of a water
wheel and used shafts" gears" and belts to propel mill machinery. ater driven
grinding stones had long been common and %vans went a step further by
connecting all the mill machinery to the water wheel by a system of shafts" gears"
and leather belts.> &ark ). )arnes Invisible GiantsI Eifty Cmericans ho Shaped
the +ation (ut &issed the History (ooks -$ford Jniversity #ress" 49:Sep:*,,5
pg ;,B This invention led to water wheels being the main power source for
sawmills" te$tile mills" and forges through the 4<th century.
In 4;*'" a Erench engineer" @ean:Kictor #oncelet" designed an efficient water
wheel. The distinction of this wheel was in its being enclosed. This directed the
water to flow through the wheel instead of around it. The idea of such a design
according to #oncelet occurred to him during his tenure at Hcole d2Cpplication in
&etz. He had an understanding of the power and force of water and wanted to
utilize it to its ma$imum. In those days turbines were used to draw water. He
improved the design of turbines and water wheels taking inspiration from the
mechanics of the #rovencal mill from southern Erance.
-n @uly *A
th
4;;,the Grand 3apids %lectric Dight and )ompany in the Jnited
States" used, a brush arc light dynamo driven by a water turbine was
used to provide theatre and storefront lighting in Grand Rapids Thus
Generating electricity from hydropower began. The power which was created from
the force of the flowing water created was sufficient to light 4' lamps in the
olverine )hair Eactory. In 4;;4" a brush dynamo connected to a turbine in a flour
mill provided street lighting at +iagara Ealls" +ew Lork. These two pro1ects used
direct:current technology.
-n Sept. 5," 4;;*" the world!s first hydroelectric power plant" the Kulcan Street
#lant" began operation in isconsin" producing enough energy to supply three
buildings. This has been reported by )aleb &arch >-n This /ayI Eirst
Hydroelectric #lant -pens September 5," *,44B. The Kulcan Street #lant" as it was
first known" was built using an %dison:invented type MNO dynamo generator. The
generator produced appro$imately 4*.9 kilowatts of electricity" enough to power
3ogers! home and his two paper mills.
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(eyond the J.S.C. hydropower stations were established in %urope in the early
*,
th
century" the first being @aruga Hydroelectric #ower #lant "the first alternating
current >C)B power system in )roatia on river Nrka" located in Pibenik:Nnin
county" in central /almatia. It was the first commercial hydro power plant in
%urope" and second in the world. Interestingly it was set in operation on *; Cugust
4;<9 at *,I,," three days after the Cdams #ower #lant on the +iagara Ealls. The
originally known as (oulder /am this dam was constructed in the 4<5,s over the
)olorado 3iver between Crizona and +evada. The construction of this dam was
primarily to prevent flooding and provide irrigation and hydroelectric power to arid
regions of states like )alifornia and Crizona. It was renamed in 4<A= in honor of
Herbert Hoover" the 54st J.S. president who was instrumental in getting the dam
built. Ct =*' feet high and 4"*AA feet long" Hoover /am was one of the largest
man:made structures in the world at the time of its construction" and one of the
world!s largest producers of hydroelectric power.
)oming to hydropower development in the Csian countries" the Shivasamudra is
the location of one of the first Hydro:electric #ower stations in Csia" which was set
up in the year 4<,*.
The Qhiguli Hydroelectric Station is a large dam and hydroelectric station on the
Kolga 3iver in 3ussia. )onstruction started in 4<9, and was completed in 4<9=.
(ritish )olombia" )anada boasts of having one of the world!s highest earth fill
dams" the . C. ). (ennett /am on the #eace 3iver. )onstruction of this his large
hydroelectric dam began in 4<'4 and culminated in 4<';. R=9, million went into
the construction of the dam.
The second tallest man:made dam in the world is the +urek /am on the Kakhsh
3iver in the central Csian nation of Ta1ikistan. )onstruction of the dam began in
4<'4 and was completed in 4<;,. The dam includes nine hydroelectric generating
units" the first commissioned in 4<=* and the last in 4<=<.
Tarbela /am on the Indus 3iver in #akistan is the largest earth filled dam in the
world and second largest by structural volume .This dam is part of the Indus (asin
#ro1ect" the outcome of a water treaty signed in 4<', between India and #akistan.
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The Tarbela /am with a volume of 4A*",,,",,, cubic meters is the largest earth
and rock fill dam in the world and stands 4A= meters above the Indus riverbed. Its
reservoir occupies an area of 5= s6uare kilometers. )onstruction of the dam began
in 4<'; and was completed in *,,' when it also started operating.
The Itaipu /am" a 1oint pro1ect between (razil and #araguay" is one of the largest
hydroelectric power plants in the world. )ompleted in 4<<4" the five:mile:long
dam produced *9 percent of the electric supply in (razil and =; percent in
#araguay by 4<<9
)hina is the largest hydroelectricity producer" with =*4 terawatt:hours of
production in *,4," representing around 4= percent of domestic electricity use. In
terms of water conservancy" The Three Gorges #ro1ect is the largest water
conservancy pro1ect in the world. It spans the Langtze 3iver. Situated by the town
of Sandouping" it is located in Liling /istrict" Lichang" Hubei province of )hina.
This dam is the world2s largest power station in terms of installed capacity >**"9,,
&B. It is an elaborate construction with multipurpose utility. The #ro1ect
consists of dam" flood release structures" power stations" and navigation facility. It
is considered as Mthe first grade development" one:time construction" water storage
by stages" continuous resettlementO. >Three Gorges #ro1ectB The total length of
dam a$is is *5,<.A=m with the crest elevation of 4;9m and the ma$imum dam
height of 4;4m. The normal reservoir storage water level is 4=9 m" the total
reservoir storage capacity is 5<.5 billion m
5
" of which flood control reservoir
storage capacity is **.49 billion m
5
This dam has multiple functions

the primary
being flood control. The ne$t function of this dam is to generate power. The Three
Gorges #ro1ect has *' units with a single unit capacity of =,, &" the total
installed capacity of 4;*,, &" and annual power production of ;A.'; Th. This
pro1ect is very significant in the present environmental crisis of the planet. The
clean hydel energy that will be produced from this dam will be sent continuously to
&iddle )hina" %ast )hina" Guangdong #rovince and )hong6ing )ity and many
other ad1oining areas. The ne$t function which this Three Gorges #ro1ect was to
perform was navigation. M+avigation construction is double:line five:step ship
lock and a vertical ship lift. Cnnual one:way transportation capacity is 9,, million
tones. The completed pro1ect can improve '', km long navigation passing from
Lichang )ity to )hong6ing )ityS the ten:thousand:ton:rank fleet can arrive at
directly )hong6ing )ity.O>Three Gorges #ro1ectB.Cs with all dams which has its

associated drawbacks the Three Gorges /am was no e$ception. There had been a
warning of the world2s largest flood if the pro1ected 4.5:mile:long" '4,:foot:high
dam ever crumbled because of man:made or natural catastrophe. (etween *=,",,,
and A,,",,, cubic yards of crashing water per second would roar downstream"
engulfing dozens of populous towns and cities and imperiling 4, million )hinese.
Cnother environmental change the dam affected was destruction of forest area. It
was brought down from *,T to 4,T during the process of construction. Senior
)hinese officials have admitted the Three Gorges /am is at risk of becoming a
UcatastrophicU environmental disaster if accumulating threats are not dealt with
promptly. The dam pro1ect had to face up to the increasing ecological threats.
These included erosion and landslides" pollution and Uecological deteriorationU
caused by Uirrational developmentU along the river. >Three Gorges /am 2could be
huge disaster2 &ary:Cnne Toy September *=" *,,=B
In this century of environmental crisis" fuel shortage and rapid depletion of energy
resources" hydropower is one of the most important options we are open to. C
primary use of hydropower energy is to produce electricity Hydroelectricity is a
renewable source of energy. Hydroelectric power plants have with reservoirs for
accumulating water and offer incomparable operational fle$ibility" because they
can promptly respond to fluctuations in the demand for electricity. The storage
capacity of these power plants are fle$ible which make them more efficient and
economical in supporting the use of intermittent sources of renewable energy" such
as solar energy.. These power plant reservoirs harvest rainwater" which can then be
used for consumption or for irrigation. (ecause these pro1ects store water" they
protect the water tables against depletion and reduce our vulnerability to floods and
droughts. The water level is maintained. The hydroelectric power plants are a
boost for the environment because it produces very small amounts of greenhouse
gases >GHGB. In emitting less GHG than power plants driven by conventional
powers like coal and oil hydroelectricity can help retard global warming. It is the
general opinion of environmental activists that hydroelectric power plants don2t
release pollutants into the air. They very fre6uently substitute the generation from
fossil fuels" thus reducing acid rain and smog. In addition to this" hydroelectric
developments don2t generate to$ic by:products. Hydroelectric enterprises that are
developed and operated in a manner that is economically viable" environmentally
sensible and socially responsible represent the best concept of sustainable
!