hydroelectric power

hydroelectric power

hydroelectric power: see power, electric; water power.

A hydro station generates power by the controlled release of water from the reservoir of a dammed elipsis

Electricity produced from generators driven by water turbines that convert the energy in falling or fast-flowing water to mechanical energy. Water at a higher elevation flows downward through large pipes or tunnels (penstocks). The falling water rotates turbines, which drive the generators, which convert the turbines' mechanical energy into electricity. The advantages of hydroelectric power over such other sources as fossil fuels and nuclear fission are that it is continually renewable and produces no pollution. Norway, Sweden, Canada, and Switzerland rely heavily on hydroelectricity because they have industrialized areas close to mountainous regions with heavy rainfall. The U.S., Russia, China, India, and Brazil get a much smaller proportion of their electric power from hydroelectric generation. Seealso tidal power.

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Over 80% of the energy in Iceland is generated in hydroelectric power stations. While geothermal energy is used for heating (and increasingly for electricity generation), the hydroelectric power stations, historically all run by Landsvirkjun, are central to the existence of Iceland as an industrialized country.

The largest power station by far is Kárahnjúkavirkjun (690 MW), which is being built in the area north of Vatnajökull to generate electricity for a new factory for the production of aluminum.

Large area's of Iceland's natural wilderness, the largest remaining in Europe, are currently being flooded to provide hydroelectric power for aluminum smelting plants owned by multinational corporations including Alcoa.

Other stations include:

  • Blöndustöð generates 150 MW
  • Búrfellsstöð generates 270 MW
  • Hrauneyjafosstöð generates 210 MW
  • Laxárstöðvar generate 28 MW
  • Sigöldustöð generates 150 MW
  • Sogsstöðvar generate 89 MW
  • Sultartangastöð generates 120 MW
  • Vatnsfellsstöð generates 90 MW

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