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Yvonne Tse

Conventional Hydroelectric Power Stations

Hydropower is a timeless resource. Water is not likely to run out in the foreseeable
future, and hydropower plants are designed to be long-lasting. Unlike fossil fuels which are
well-known to be detrimental to the atmosphere, hydropower does not produce any
greenhouse gas emissions. The water that goes through a hydropower plant is also
constantly recycled and never contaminated. Hydroelectricity is the most popular way to
generate electricity using a renewable resource.
Hydroelectricity is mainly generated through the use of run of the river hydroelectric stations
or by conventional dams


may be a great way to produce energy,

but there are also many negative effects.

. No water is stored for run of the river hydroelectric stations and dams are built with
large reservoirs of water regulated by a gate called the intake. When opened, the gate will
allow a pipeline called a penstock to direct the water to a turbine. There are two main types
of turbines: a reaction or impulse turbine. Turbines are chosen depending on the elevation
and volume of the water. The impulse turbine uses the velocity of water to move the runner
so that the shaft of the turbine rotates whereas a reaction turbine gains power through the
combination of pressure and moving water. A popular impulse wheel would be the Pelton
wheel. The Pelton wheel uses more than one free jet to discharge water onto spoon-shaped
blades. The Pelton wheel is mainly used for lower heads where the water elevation is low. An
improved version of the Pelton wheel would be the Turgo wheel. This turbine is able to
handle a greater flow of water than the Pelton wheel, and is designed to be capable of
reaching efficiency rates of up to 90% while taking up less space. The most common turbine
is a reaction wheel called the Francis turbine. The Francis turbine is enormous and can weigh
up to 170 tons. Its major components include a spiral casing, guide vanes, runner blades,
and a draft tube. Water goes through the runner radially and leaves axially through the draft
tube. The draft tube can be straight or curved and its purpose is to reduce the velocity of the
water to keep as much kinetic energy as possible. The draft tube also monitors the flow of
water pressure and it is connected to the tail race. The spiral casing is meant to decrease
the velocity of the water. This is so that the water enters the runners at uniform velocity.
Guide vanes are included to help guide the flow of water towards the runner. After running
through turbines, water will enter the generator where energy is produced based on
electromagnetic induction. Electric currents are created when metal conductors are passed
through a magnetic field. The kinetic energy of the moving water powers a turbine to create
mechanical energy which is then converted to electrical energy. The energy is moved to the
transformer where the generated electricity is converted to a higher voltage. which leads to
the outflow and then finally, the power lines. The power lines will transport the final product
to electrical grids that are used to power homes. The tail race is the lowest part of the dam
and will transfer the water back into the river. The formula for electric power production at a
hydroelectric power plant would be P=phrgk where P is watts, p is water density, h is height
in metres, r is flow rate in m/s, g is gravity at 9.8 m/s, and k is the coefficient of
efficiency. The energy that goes through a hydroelectric power station is transformed from
potential to kinetic to mechanical to electrical energy.
Although producing energy with water is a more Earth-friendly alternative to fossil
fuels, there are also some drawbacks. For example, hydropower plants are not universally
adaptable for every single country. Not every country has easy access to the large body of
water needed in a reservoir. Another drawback is that the investment rate could be
extremely high, and it may cost billions of dollars to build a dam. For example, a gravity dam
would take massive amounts of material to build because its great size and height is needed
to oppose force and resist horizontal pressure. Other costly factors also need to be included

such as whether or not deforestation has to be involved or whether citizens need to be

relocated. Despite being one of the most expensive, the gravity dam is one of the most
common dams built around the world. Hydropower could also be a unreliable source of
energy because during dry seasons, reservoir water levels may be low causing the power
output to be lower as well. Unless a pumped-storage hydroelectric storage station is built to
meet electrical demands, a normal dam could possibly not have enough water in their
reservoir to move turbines. A pumped-storage hydroelectric storage station has two
reservoirs so that the stored water in one reservoir can be used to refill the emptier one so
that the reservoir would have reliable water levels. Building dams also disrupts natural
environment. If a river has been chosen as a suitable location, depending on the type of
dam, a river could be flooded and turned into a lake in order to have a reservoir of water.
This forcefully changes the preexisting river ecosystem into a lake ecosystem, causing land
which contained homes of organisms to be destroyed. Salmon who rely on rivers to migrate
in could end up losing their migration route, and salmon are especially important because of
its status as a keystone species. The biodiversity of the area around the dam could also be
affected. In China, the controversial Three Gorges Dam needed land that citizens inhabited.
In order for the dam to be built, residents had to be relocated. Many families would have had
to more to another location with possibly very little financial compensation, causing buying
new houses and fulfilling basic needs difficult. People living near the Three Gorges Dam
would also have to move because of the risk of landslides, which means that hydropower
plants may be changing the geographical features of the land. Disrupting the downstream
movement of sediments is also a concern. Silt is known to be a nutrient-rich resource that is
beneficial for farming and many other uses. In most cases, rivers will run through more than
one country causing ownership rights to be unclear. In order to meet electrical demands
during a dry season, a upriver country could create conflict by deciding to obstruct the water
to the downriver country. There is also a chance of dam failure where a dam's reservoir may
overflow or break. The causes of dam failure include human error, natural disaster, poor
maintenance, and many more. Using low quality materials could also contribute to dam
failure. Not all dams were built for hydroelectricity purposes, but dam failure for hydropower
plants could be a concern.
A dam's price may vary depending on the type of dam. Over the past few decades,
hydroelectricity has slowly increased in importance as a renewable resource. 19% of the
world's energy is powered through hydroelectricity. Although China is currently the biggest
producer of hydroelectricity, Canada comes in second with 59% of Canada's energy
produced through hydropower. 90% of British Columbia's electricity is also produced through
hydropower. Problems with adoption in Canada would mostly be due to disagreements over
land use. For example, the James Bay Project was a project for building hydropower stations
on the La Grande river. Cree and Inuit First Nations that inhabited the area opposed the
project over environmental rights, and agreements had to be made.
Dams can also be used as tourist locations. A popular dam in America would be the
Hoover Dam which was built during the Great Depression. The dam that is able to produce
four billion kilo-watt hours of energy cost $165 million dollars to make and is still running
almost eighty years later. 17 generators are used to power this dam and 3600 people are
currently employed and working on the hydropower plant. As a tourist attraction, a lot of
extra income is generated since over 1 million people visit every year. Other energy options
like nuclear power plants and oil power plants are more dangerous than hydropower plants
because when disaster happens, these power plants may leave long lasting effects. Nuclear
power plant failures will leave behind radiation which can damage DNA., and oil spills are a
concern due to the fact that oceans creatures exposed to the oil may accidentally ingest,
inhale, or absorb the oil, causing the animals to damage their organs. Hydroelectricity is
considered a cleaner and more effiecnt alternative to nuclear or oil generated energy. 90%
of available energy is converted in a hydropower plant, however, fossil fuel power plants
only convert 60% of available energy into electricity.

Hydroelectricity is generally a safe and efficient way to produce renewable energy.

Some hydropower facilities are over 100 years old, which proves their sustainability. With
proper research and attention to the environment, hydroelectricity will be a vital resource in
a more environmentally-friendly future.