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How Hydropower Works

How Hydropower Works

Learn How Hydropower Works

Ever wonder how hydropower works? The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) defines hydropower as energy derived from moving water. This energy can be harvested from streams, waterfalls, rivers and currents to provide a continuous and reliable source of power for homes, businesses and industrial applications. Hydropower is made possible by the water cycle.

What Is the Water Cycle?

The EIA describes the water cycle as an ongoing and continuous process involving the following three steps:

  • Solar energy heats the surface of bodies of water, including streams, rivers, lakes and oceans. This causes the water to evaporate and to enter the atmosphere as water vapor.
  • When the water vapor cools down sufficiently, it condenses back into its liquid form and falls as precipitation. This may be in the form of rain, snow, sleet or even hail.
  • Once the precipitation reaches the ground, it collects in the rivers and streams that flow to the ocean. This begins the process of evaporation and the renewal of the water cycle.

Capturing Kinetic Energy

Water in streams, rivers and the ocean is constantly moving. Dams and mills use the kinetic energy of this water to generate more power. A basic example of this process is a grain mill by the side of a river that uses the flow of water to turn a large wheel. The larger wheel is connected to smaller wheels that grind the grain. These systems are known as run-of-the-river systems that put the power within the current to direct use. Storage systems are designed to release only limited amounts of water and to store the energy in turbines for as-needed use. Within the oceans, prevalent currents offer even greater potential as a reliable source of kinetic energy.

The OceanBased Approach

At OceanBased, we have developed ocean current energy converters that are suspended directly in the path of the Florida Gulf Stream current. As the water flows northward, these converters harness the kinetic energy of the ocean and transfer it to ocean floor substations. From there, it travels to onshore sites where it can be fed into the electrical grid and used by consumers, commercial enterprises and industrial concerns. This allows OceanBased to deliver consistent, continuous and reliable power for the needs of the Gulf Coast and other areas of the nation.

To learn more about how OceanBased is changing the way hydropower is generated, give us a call today at 1 (305) 2-ENERGY or visit us online. We look forward to the chance to work with you.