Where does hydroelectricity come from?


Quick Answer

Hydroelectricity is generated by hydropower plants that are situated in areas where naturally flowing water undergoes a sudden significant elevation decline. By building a dam across the body of water, the kinetic energy of the falling water is captured by turning turbines that generate relatively clean and reliable electricity.

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Full Answer

The environmental impact of hydropower is caused when the man-made dam, necessary to control the flow of water through the hydroelectric generators, permanently alters the bodies of water it blocks. Upstream of the dam, previously dry areas undergo flooding, while the river flow is considerably less below the dam. Hydropower is widely used in mountainous areas, such as the Pacific Northwest.

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