Hydrostatic head

Hydrostatic head

When generating hydropower, the head is a general term used to describe the distance that a given water source has to fall before the point where power is generated. Ultimately the force responsible for hydropower is gravity, so a hydroelectricity plant with a tall/high head can produce more energy than a similar plant with a short/low head. The difference is immediately apparent if you compare the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona with the Aswan Dam in Egypt. In short, a larger head allows water to fall a greater distance, which in turn allows more kinetic energy to accumulate. That energy is then harnessed by a water wheel or water turbine to create usable hydropower. !meh!

See also

  • Hydraulic head for a more technical description of the physical principle of hydraulics



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