Canada’s hydropower potential – more than double our current capacity – can help meet demand while reducing GHGs and air pollutants. All regions of Canada have hydropower resources available for development, making it a truly national resource. Over the next twenty years, hydropower project development could benefit Canada with over $125 billion in investments and a million jobs.1
What is Hydropower?
Like other forms of electricity generation, hydropower uses a turbine to help generate electricity; using the energy of falling or flowing water to turn the blades. The rotating blades spin a generator that converts the mechanical energy of the spinning turbine into electrical energy. The amount of electricity generated from each power plant depends on the quantity of the flowing water and the height from which it falls.2 Historically, one of the first uses of hydro power was for mechanical milling, such as grinding grains. Today, modern hydro plants produce electricity, and hydro plant facilities can be categorized into three sizes: large (>30MW), small (100kW – 30 MW), or micro (<100 kW).3
Benefits of Hydropower
Hydropower has a number of advantages, some of which are listed below:6
- Clean fuel source, since hydropower is fueled by water. Therefore, it won’t pollute the air.
- Domestic source of energy, so each state or province can produce their own energy without relying on international fuel sources.
- Renewable power source, which is more reliable and affordable than fossil fuels.
- Hydropower creates reservoirs that offer recreational opportunities, such as fishing, swimming, and boating.
- Hydropower plants can provide power to the grid immediately, and provide back-up power during major electricity outages.
- Provide flood control, irrigation, and water supply.
Canada is the third largest producer of hydropower in the world behind only China and Brazil. Its hydro infrastructure is spread from coast to coast to coast and accounts for about 60 per cent of all the electricity generated in Canada.4 Canada is a net exporter of electricity to the United States and the majority of Canada’s exports come from hydropower. This helps eliminate millions of tons of CO2 emissions each year as Canadian hydropower displaces generation in the United States that can be much higher in greenhouse gas emissions. New innovative hydro technologies such as in-stream kinetic and Ocean wave and tidal designs are being studied and tested. So are technologies that improve the efficiency, flexibility, and environmental performance of conventional hydroelectric generation. The industry constantly improves its ecological profile by developing new technologies, such as fish-friendly ladders, intake gates and turbines.1
In India, the Teesta-V hydropower station has been rated as an example of international good practice in hydropower sustainability according to an independent report. The report shows that Teesta-V met or exceeded international good practice across all 20 performance criteria, including reliability, efficiency, financial viability, cultural heritage, public health, and erosion and sedimentation.5
In conclusion, hydropower is not only an important source of electricity, it is also beneficial for the environment!
1Waterpower Canada. (2019). Five Things You Need to Know About Hydropower: Canada’s Number One Electricity Source. Retrieved from canadahydro.ca: https://canadahydro.ca/facts/
2Origin Energy Limited. (August 14, 2018). What is hydropower? Retrieved from originenergy.com: https://www.originenergy.com.au/blog/about-energy/what-is-hydropower.html
3Muise, Stacy. (2019). Hydro Power. Retrieved from studentenergy.org: https://www.studentenergy.org/topics/hydro-power
4Canadian Geographic. (2016). Canadian Hydropower. Retrieved from hydro.canadiangeographic.ca: http://hydro.canadiangeographic.ca/
5IHA Communications Team. (August 7, 2019). India’s Teesta-V hydro station an example of international good practice. Retrieved from hydropower.org: https://www.hydropower.org/news
6Water Power Technologies Office. (2019). Benefits of Hydropower. Retrieved from energy.gov: https://www.energy.gov/eere/water/benefits-hydropower