Hydroelectric power plants capture the energy of falling water to generate electricity. A turbine converts the kinetic energy of falling water into mechanical energy. Then a generator converts the mechanical energy from the turbine into electrical energy.
Most conventional hydroelectric plants include four major components
- Dam. Raises the water level of the river to create falling water. Also controls the flow of water. The reservoir that is formed is, in effect, stored energy.
- Turbine. The force of falling water pushing against the turbine’s blades causes the turbine to spin. A water turbine is much like a windmill, except the energy is provided by falling water instead of wind. The turbine converts the kinetic energy of falling water into mechanical energy.
- Generator. Connected to the turbine by shafts and possibly gears so when the turbine spins it causes the generator to spin also. Converts the mechanical energy from the turbine into electric energy. Generators in hydroelectric power plants work just like the generators in other types of power plants.
- Transmission lines. Conduct electricity from the hydroelectric power plant to homes and business.