Statistics indicate that hydroelectricity is used widely in several countries. Hydroelectricity is generated in a hydroelectric power plant. These plants have been in existence for several decades, and they have been efficient and dependable. They are termed as the oldest known way of generating energy. The Hoover dam is a great paradigm of the magnitude of a hydroelectric power plant. Some of the greatest hydropower plants are also amazing tourist attractions.
Efficiency of Hydroelectric Power
A hydropower plant can provide up to 90% efficiency throughout the year. This is generally applicable to the power plants in association with large dams. This is because, large turbines can be installed in large dams, and these dams have a strong flow of water consistently. So, irrespective of the seasonal changes, the annual efficiency of around 85% to 90% can be achieved. The larger the dam, the better is the efficiency of hydroelectricity.
Smaller dams generally have smaller turbines, and the intensity of the flow of water is also not consistent, so they have a lower efficiency. Few small hydropower plants are estimated to have an efficiency of just 50%. It can easily be stated that, hydropower generation is very efficient, but you can understand the significance of this efficiency, only when you compare it with the efficiency of other methods of energy generation.
Hydro vs. Solar
Solar energy is termed as the ultimate alternative source of energy, but even by using the ultra modern methods, the efficiency of solar power is around 40%, which is far less than the hydropower generation.
Hydro vs. Wind
The electricity generation using wind power has a very low efficiency. It is probably around 20% to 34%, this clearly indicates the efficiency of hydroelectricity.
Hydro vs. Fossil Fuel
The hydropower generation triumphs in this case too. The fossil fuel plants generally have a maximum efficiency of 60%, which is comparatively lower.
Hydro vs Geothermal
Hydropower generation efficiency beats geothermal plant efficiency hands down. The 16% efficiency of geothermal power plants is no comparison with the super efficient hydropower generation.
Bonus to Hydroelectric Power Generation
It is clearly evident from the efficiency comparisons that, the efficiency of hydropower generation is superior. In addition to the high efficiency, there are other benefits associated with it.
The hydroelectric power generating plants are set up only after detailed study and research. Every aspect that might affect the environment is considered, and if the proposed plant is found to be hazardous to the surroundings, and if there are no means of preventing the damage to the environment, the plant is not constructed. Moreover, this type of power generation is pollution free when compared to the power generation in the fossil fuel plants.
The capital required to set up a hydroelectricity plant is high when compared to other plants, but hydropower plants have a longer operating life. Once the plant starts operating, then the investment can be recovered very quickly. The operating life of these plants can be increased considerably, and the maintenance of these plants is relatively cheap. A great example of the durability of a hydropower plant is the Hoover dam, it has been there for more than 70 years, and it still functions efficiently, and can be considered as one of the best in the world.
Most of the dams in the United States were constructed several decades ago, they use outdated technology; if modern technology is incorporated in these plants, their efficiency will increase substantially. Hydroelectric power generation is efficient and clean, but there are very few sites eligible to host a hydropower plant due to environmental concerns.