ECOLEAF: Renewable Hydroelectric Powered Energy
One of hydropower’s chief benefits is that it has the ability to respond quickly to demand levels. It also cuts down on carbon emissions by reducing production at plants that burn coal, natural gas, and petroleum. The cost of operating hydropower plants is one-third the cost of coal, petroleum, and nuclear power plants; and is one-fourth the cost incurred by natural gas electricity production. Although modern hydroturbines are capable of converting 90% of the energy into electricity (compared to 50% for fossil fuel), hydropower plants only operate at 25 to 45% efficiencies due to the fluctuations between day- and night-time requirements and the limitations and availability of water.
Hydropower is produced at an average cost of $0.07kWh. There are more than 2,000 facilities in the U.S. with generators ranging in size from 350KW to 805MW.
One negative aspect of hydropower is that plants can require intensive feats of engineering. They’re also constrained by water limitations, which in turn are stipulated by seasonal availabilities and downstream affects.
US Hydroelectric electricity consumption in 2005: 270,320 GWh
US Hydroelectric Capacity Usage in 2006: 42.4% of 77,821 MW
Global Hydroelectric Powered electricity Energy Capacity in 2005: 750GW
Global Hydroelectric Powered electricity Energy Capacity in 2006: 770GW
US Hydroelectric Powered electricity Energy Capacity in 2005: 95GW
China Hydroelectric Powered electricity Energy Capacity in 2006: 100GW
In 2001, hydropower accounted for 20% of the world’s energy use. There are only a few scattered plans to increase and build new hydroelectric power facilities world-wide. New operational facilities built in 2003 included a 18.2 GW facility in China, a 2GW facility in India, and a 2.5GW facility in Malaysia. The difficulties faced by energy suppliers who want to install new hydroelectric power plants are many: the intensive and massive engineering needs of the plants themselves, the increased costs of labor and raw materials, and the limitations and availabilities of locations. With the exception of China, hydropower has flatlined in most parts of the world. China currently has the largest global construction inventory of hydroelectric dams--in 2005, China also had the largest installed capacity in the world with 118GW. They were followed by the U.S. (77 GW), Canada (72GW), Brazil (71GW), Japan (47GW) and Russia (46GW).
Hydroelectric contribution to global energy needs continues to decline year after year. While hydropower has not come to an end, it’s clearly not destined to supplant coal and natural gas power plants in any major capacity.
THE LARGEST HYDRO PLANT: The world’s largest dam and hydroelectric facility was recently completed in China at a projected publicized cost of $25 billion. Estimates, however, are starting to place it at more like $70 billion. The Three Gorges Dam is slated to produce 18.2 GW via 26 generators. The dam has a reservoir length of more than 372 miles at a maximum width of 1.24 miles. It took more than 20,000 workers to build and displaced at least 1.3 million inhabitants.
HYDROELECTRIC POWERED ENERGY
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