Hydropower Science and Safety

4 Think about it: About half of the hydropower in the U.S. is produced in the Pacific Northwest. Why do you think that is ? Does your local energy provider deliver electricity that is generated fromhydropower ? If so, where are the hydropower facilities located ? Do some Internet research to find out. thepower ofwater Humans have been harnessing the energy of flowing water for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat into flour and to sawwood. Today, hydropower is the world’s largest renewable source of electricity. FUN FACT Flowing water is a formof mechanical energy that can be used to produce electricity. This is called "hydropower . " Hydropower relies on themovement of water to turn turbines. The turbines turn electromagnets that consist of heavy coils of copper wire. Themovingmagnets cause the electrons in the copper wire to flow fromatom to atom, generating electricity. Hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. It is produced in every state in the country, at several different types of hydropower facilities. These include: • Hydropower Dams . A dam is used to raise the water level of a river and create a reservoir. Water in the reservoir builds up pressure against the dam, and can be released into a powerhouse, where it spins a turbine to create electricity. • Dams with Pumped Storage. When demand for electricity is low (such as at night), water that has been used to create electricity can be pumped back up through the dam to the reservoir, where it is stored for future use. • Run-of-the-River Hydropower. A large pipe called a penstock carries water froma river downhill to a powerhouse, where the force of thewater spins a turbine to create electricity. Then thewater is returned back to the river downstream. Reservoir Intake Generator Turbine Long-distance power lines Dam Powerhouse ACTIVITY: MEGAWATTMATH The electricity we use in our homes is measured in watts. For example, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs use between 5 and 28 watts. A hair dryer uses about 1500 watts. Because power plants generate so much electricity, the electricity they make is measured in much larger units called megawatts. One megawatt equals one million watts. • The largest hydropower facility in the U.S., the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington state, produces up to 6,809 megawatts of electricity. • The Hoover Dam on the Colorado River that runs through Nevada and Arizona can produce up to 2,080 megawatts of electricity. • Howmany more megawatts can the Grand Coulee Dam produce than the Hoover Dam?_______________________________________________