Electricity Powered By Water

Electricity Powered By Water

The Top 5 Hydroelectricity Powerhouses In The World!

When we think of renewable energy, the first thing that comes into mind is solar energy, after all in sunny Singapore solar panels are almost everywhere, but did you know water is also a powerful renewable energy source?


While land-locked and land-scarce countries such as Singapore look towards renewable sources such as wind energy and solar power, countries that are blessed to be near water sources have the ability to harness water as their main power source.

How Water Can Generate Electricity

While windmills focus on converting wind energy into rotational energy that spin turbines to generate electricity, the same concept is applied to hydroelectric power, however with a twist. In order for there to be enough energy to spin a turbine, there must be enough elevation or height for the water to convert potential energy into kinetic energy that will help spin the turbines.

That means, the higher the elevation of the water from the turbine, the more electricity it will generate! When it comes to hydroelectric power, there are mainly two technologies currently used to generate it: run-of-river hydro plants and impoundment hydro plants.

Run-of-river hydro plants are rather simple: It is whereby a dam downstream from a river is created to harness the natural potential energy of water. While this method of hydropower is cleaner with fewer greenhouse gases emitted in the process, the power supply is intermittent, unstable and subject to the seasonal changes of the river.

Impoundment hydro plants are the most common around due to its ability to be able to control the potential energy of the water stored behind it. Impoundment facilities use dams to store river water in a reservoir, once the level reaches an acceptable level, the water is then allowed to flow through the dam, spinning the turbines in the process. The advantage of such a system is the ability to control the output and generate consistently a set amount of electricity.

The Top 5 Countries That Use Hydroelectric Power

#1 China

With over 1,193,370 GWh of hydropower, China tops the world when it comes to generating hydroelectricity for their domestic consumption. China boasts one of the world’s largest hydroelectric dam, generating as much as 22,500 megawatts from 32 main turbines, the Three Gorges Dam cost a whopping $37 billion. The dam is so enormous that NASA scientist calculated that the water mass stored in the dam is capable of slowing the Earth’s rotation itself!

#2 Canada

Beating even the United States is Canada with a generation amount of 387,208 GWh of hydroelectric power. In total, Canada has an estimated installed hydroelectric capacity of 75 GW and growing, this power source provides 63% of the domestic electricity to Canadians, from the households to industry and infrastructure use.

#3 Brazil

Third on our list is Brazil which generates approximately 380,911 GWh of hydroelectricity. While lagging behind Canada and China in total hydropower generation, the world’s largest dam, the Itaipu Dam located on the Brazil-Paraguay border overtook China’s Three Gorges dam by producing 103.1TWh and has held numerous world records since its opening in 1984.

#4 United States

Producing 35% of their total renewable electricity, the United States comes in at the 4th of our list with 292,113 GWh generated in 2016. With over 34 states in the USA having hydroelectric power stations, many of these projects such as the Hoover Dam today are iconic hydropower plants that are famous throughout the world and popular culture. The Hoover Dam today helps to power the lives of 1.3 million people spread across three states: California, Arizona and Nevada.

#5 Russia

In 2016, the Russian Federation generated 184,172 GWh worth of hydropower, making it the 5th on our list. Russia boasts an installed hydropower capacity of over 48,000 MW. While none of their dams by themselves are extremely noteworthy, Russia actually ranks 2nd in the world for underdeveloped hydropower resources to the tune of 852 TWh, that means less than 20% of its full potential has been realised!

Is Hydroelectricity The Best Green Energy Out There?

While hydropower has widespread use amongst big nations, they do pose a slew of negative impacts that range from environmental to economical, these include:

  • Negative environmental impact to the river ecosystem and neighboring environment.
  • High capital costs and investment, making it unsuitable for countries that have economic challenges.
  • Conflicts might arise locally due to the channeling and storing of water in dams, diverting away resources from areas that might need it more.
  • The hydroelectric power reservoir emits vast quantities of carbon dioxide and methane.

Believing In Green Energy

While Singapore can’t adopt hydroelectric energy due to our land space, we are strong advocates of solar energy and even you today as a resident can help do your part in going green.

At iSwitch all of our energy plans are green energy, that means the electricity you purchase from iSwitch has zero environmental impact and is completely 100% carbon neutral!

To learn more about our price plans go here

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