ology logo
card
301

water power

OLogy Series
geology
card
301

water power

OLogy Series
geology

From waves to waterfalls, water is usually on the move. And that means it has energy. When this energy is captured and turned into electricity, it is called water power or hydropower. Hydroelectric plants use the energy of flowing water to turn turbines to generate electricity. Today, most hydropower is produced near rivers or dams. But experts are also working on ways to capture water energy from waves, tides, and currents.

Most people who benefit from water power live near:

the ocean

large lakes

rivers

Are you right?

Correct!

Most hydroelectric plants are built along rivers, where they capture the energy of water flowing downstream.

Hydroelectric plants have been producing electricity for decades. Today, they provide about ______ percent of the world's electricity:

5

15

25

Are you right?

Correct!

Looking to the near future, there are limits to how much more electricity can come from water power. There's not much room for big hydropower plants since they must be built along rivers and require dams.

Hydroelectric plants can have a negative impact on communities and the environment.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

People and animals are sometimes displaced to build dams for hydroelectric plants. Dams can also disturb river ecosystems and the routes of animals like migrating fish.

There is an unlimited supply of water power on Earth.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Water power is a renewable resource. That means it will never run out. It is driven by the constant flow of water on Earth's surface.

Definition: the process of producing electricity using the power of flowing water
Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Almost none!
Cost: cheap (compared to other energy sources)
Location: near rivers and dams
Current Use: almost 15% of the world's energy
Cool Fact: A hydroelectric plant in Nova Scotia uses the receding water of high tide to power turbines.

Image credits: courtesy of Ocean Power Delivery.