Hydroelectricity is electrical energy generated when falling water from reservoirs or flowing water from rivers, streams or waterfalls (run of river) is channeled through water turbines. The pressure of the flowing water on the turbine blades causes the shaft to rotate and the rotating shaft drives an electrical generator which converts the motion of the shaft into electrical energy. Most commonly, water is dammed and the flow of water out of the dam to drive the turbines is controlled by the opening or closing of sluices, gates or pipes. This is commonly called penstock.
Hydropower is the most advanced and mature renewable energy technology and provides some level of electricity generation in more than 160 countries worldwide. Hydro is a renewable energy source and has the advantages of low greenhouse gas emissions, low operating costs, and a high ramp rate (quick response to electricity demand), enabling it to be used for either base or peak load electricity generation, or both.
Australia has more than 100 operating hydroelectric power stations with total installed capacity of about 7800 megawatts (MW). These are located in the areas of highest rainfall and elevation and are mostly in New South Wales (55 per cent) and Tasmania (29 per cent). The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme, with a capacity of 3800MW, is Australia’s largest hydro scheme and is one of the most complex integrated water and hydroelectricity schemes in the world.
While Australia is one of the driest continents on earth, we still have the potential to tap into our water resources, and become smarter about the power of water. Help to make Australia a Hydro continent by becoming an active participant in our campaigns.