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Hydroelectricity produces electricity by simply using the power of water; it is currently the most used renewable energy source. The process behind this includes building dams to block large volumes of water i.e., rivers to create small reservoirs. As the pressure increases behind the dam the dams are opened to release water. This causes a surge in pressure and as the water reaches the turbine it causes the turbine to turn, generating electricity. By using this particular method of using renewable energy, produces less pollution that most other steam engines. Places such as Norway and Quebec have begun to use these methods.
When it comes to the advantages of using hydroelectricity there is a large list, which is perhaps the reason it is the most used form of renewable energy. One of the biggest factors is that hydroelectricity does not damage the environment as opposed to traditional forms of producing energy such as fossil fuels. As well as being a safe form of electricity it is also very efficient as there is virtually no waste. Where there is no sun or wind, hydroelectricity is the best source of electricity due to the sheer abundance of water. Other advantages would be that once the dam is constructed there are no costs due to waste or pollution. This also means that electricity can be produced almost ‘on demand’ as instead of having to find a fossil, combusting it and then converting it, the dams just have to be opened in order for production to begin. With this control hydroelectricity makes a good match for less controllable intermittent energy sources.
In 1881, Niagara falls became the first place to have a hydroelectric dam built. Currently there are over 48,000 dams worldwide averaging to one dam being built everyday for the past 130 years. Over half of these dams can be found in China as there are currently 25,800 dams already built with plans to make more.
On the other hand same countries are only just staring to build dams in their countries. New plans are in motion for the construction of the Grand Inga, a dam which will be built in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This project in the Congo has recently been approved and built with works having started in 2015. The project is very much ‘Grand’ with the operation being of a similar magnitude of the Three Gorges Dam in China, the first phase of this costs around $12 billion. The entire project was said to generate around 40,000 MW of electricity which is well over DRC’s current electricity generation capacity of 2500 MW, equalling the same amount generation capacity of Indonesia. The World Bank predicts that this amount of hydroelectricity can provide enough energy to power up 500 million African households.
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