How Do Dams Work?

Dams work by controlling the flow of large bodies of water through a turbine propeller, which turns so that a generator can produce electricity. So, a dam converts the energy of water that is flowing ultimately into electricity.

The operation of a dam requires includes several factors.

  1. The right construction
  2. Dams are built where there is a large elevation to hold the water behind. There needs to be a lot of water, and the higher the elevation, the more electricity that can be produced.

  3. Controlling water flow
  4. The flow of water into the dam is controlled through an intake which leads the water into a penstock. The water flows into this area by gravity, so there are no external forces making it move. The volume of water allowed through the intake and the penstock is another determining factor as to how much electricity the dam will produce. More water equals more electricity.

  5. Spin the turbine
  6. The main purpose of the penstock is to direct the water to the turbine. It has large blades which are pushed by the moving water, causing the turbine to spin.

  7. Mechanical energy transfer
  8. This mechanical energy is transferred to an electricity generator by a shaft that is connected to both the spinning turbine and the generator. The generator produces the electricity which is carried away from the dam via power lines.

  9. Out to the river
  10. Once the water passes the turbine it goes out of the dam into the river on the other side.