We explain what hydroelectric energy is and how a hydroelectric power plant works. The advantages and disadvantages of this energy and examples.
What is the hydraulic energy?
It is known as energ a hidr ulica, energ ah drica o hidroenerg a a la obtained from the use of cin energy Ethics and / or potential of currents, falls or waterfalls. It is a form of energy long used in the history of mankind and at different scales, since it can be transformed into numerous other forms of energy a useful.
In general, hydraulic energy is considered safe, renewable and clean, since it does not exhaust the water it uses, nor does it produce toxic substances or pollutants.
However, it usually has a considerable environmental impact given the impact that facilities can have, especially on a large scale, such as hydroelectric dams, which modify the flow of rivers, flood dry lands and they can even change water quality.
For centuries, the riverbed has been used with mills and rotors to harness its strength and convert it into mechanical energy, whether to grind grains or wheat, o To generate electricity. The strength of the water, its fluidity and its abundance make these mechanisms an ideal resource for humanity.
It can serve you: Mechanical Energy.
How do hydroelectric plants work?
Hydroelectric power plants are the best known case of use of hydraulic energy, in this case to generate electricity. This is carried out by placing the plant in some natural water fall, river channel or, in case of not having the necessary height, by building a hydroelectric dam.
The logic of these sites is to take advantage of the gravitational potential energy of the water or the intensity of its current, to make the liquid move a hydraulic turbine constantly, thus generating new energy that is then transmitted to an alternator, to obtain electricity.
This electrical energy can then be transmitted through the network to homes and businesses that require it.
Advantages of hydraulic energy
Hydraulic energy has the following virtues:
- It is renewable, because they do not waste water from the rivers, nor do they affect their drying.
- Given the abundance of water on the planet, this energy is cheap and easily obtainable. Of course, the installation costs of hydroelectric plants are, but that counts only as an initial investment.
- It is a form of clean energy, as it does not byproduct polluting substances, since there are no combustion processes or raw materials.
- It is in the long run economic, since it does not depend on the income of raw material or the fluctuations of its market.
Disadvantages of hydraulic power
At the same time, this form of energy has the following defects:
- The environmental impact of large facilities in rivers and lakes.
- The high cost of the construction of the power plants, as well as the secondary costs of the flooding of fertile land to build a dam.
- It alters the river ecosystems downstream, since the water that leaves the plant lacks sediments.
- Extreme dry seasons and phenomena such as El Nino can drastically reduce electrical production.
Importance of hydraulic energy
This form of energy is key in the development of sustainable and ecological ways to meet the growing demand for energy in the post-industrial world .
The burning of fossil fuels is too polluting, nuclear energy is too dangerous and the other forms are not efficient enough. Hydropower and other forms of renewable electricity are increasingly viewed as a necessary option in the future world .
Examples of hydraulic energy
Examples of the use of hydraulic energy are:
- Hydraulic mills, which, pushed by the riverbed, serve to rotate a piston and a millstone in it, with which grains, seeds, wheat, are ground or crushed. etc. This same principle has been used with the force of the wind.
- Hydroelectric power stations, such as the Sim n Bol var Hydroelectric Power Plant, in Venezuela, also called the Guri Dam, which takes advantage of the flow of the river Caroni, a tributary of the Orinoco, to generate about 10, 235 MW of electricity that supplies the entire country.