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What do power and water have in common? Hydropower facts

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What do power and water have in common? Hydropower facts
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Hydropower uses the force or energy of moving water to generate power, but how do we get it from the stream to the switch? Allow us to ‘enlighten’ you!

Hydropower is the oldest and most mature form of renewable energy. Farmers in Ancient Greece used water wheels to grind wheat into flour. While the Ancient Egyptians used hydropower to raise water levels for irrigation. To put it simply – hydropower is old hat!

Effectively converting the power of moving water to electricity is also one of the cheapest forms of energy to harness, according to Geoscience Australia.


What’s a hydroplant and can I eat it?

Hydropower is generated in hydroplants, which are usually made up of:

  1. The reservoir is where the water is stored
  2. The dam controls the water flow (by being opened and closed)
  3. The turbine spins as a result of the water turning its blades
  4. The generator is connected to the turbine (this turning of the generator is what creates electrical energy)
  5. Transmission lines carry the electricity generated to homes and businesses
Diagram showing how a hydro dam works

So how does water convert to power?

When the dam is opened and the level of water rises, the force of water that rushes through the blades of the turbine makes it spin. The spinning generates mechanical energy which turns the hydroplants generator. The turning of the generator creates electrical energy, which is then collected and distributed via the transmission lines.

The amount of electricity that can be generated at a hydroplant is dependent on how far and how much water falls from the dam through the turbine – the more water and the greater height equals more mechanical energy, which creates more electrical energy. Science is awesome!

Powershops parent company, Meridian Energy, is Australasia’s largest 100% renewable generator, owning only renewable generation assets. In Australia, Meridian Energy owns three hydroplants across New South Wales and has an additional power purchase agreement with another hydroplant in Victoria. All of these hydro assets generate enough electricity to power 59,800 homes* – that’s more than all the homes in St Kilda, Bondi Beach and Noosa combined!**

Photo of Hume hydro dam
Hume Dam, Murray River, NSW
Photo of Burrinjuck hydro dam
Burrinjuck Dam, Murrimbidgee River, NSW

Ultimately, we give a dam about renewables. So water you waiting for? Green out with us today!


* Based on an average household usage of 5MWh p.a

** Private dwelling data from ABS 2016 Census QuickStats



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