Nairobi : Kenya | Aug 18, 2012 at 12:24 AM PDT
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Energy is the ability to do work; however, due to economic and technological advancement manual systems are on the decline while automatic switching systems are on the increase hence the need to have electricity to run the systems in place. The paper is based on hydro electric power generation but will consider and discuss further the power system, sustainability, generation, use and effects on environment.


Hydro electric power is a source of power generated from moving water. Through gravitational force water is channeled to flow through a tunnel that turns a turbine, the turbine is connected to an electric system so through the rotation of turbine an electric field is created which creates an electric force which would be harassed and stored in grids to be distributed and sold to customers during peak times when there must be additional sources of energy.

Hydroelectric power system

Hydroelectric power system contains numerous processes which include the movement of water from the earth to the atmosphere and then back; the sun heats the water bodies that lead to evaporation of heated water (moisture), through condensation process clouds are formed (Huggins, 2010). However, the moisture is released from the clouds as snow or rain hence the water bodies which includes rivers and oceans are refilled with moisture as the cycle restarts, this is a continuous process which is necessary in order to have constant source of water within the world (Daglis, 2004).

Sustainability of hydroelectricity power

The ability to maintain and constantly have hydroelectric power depends on the source of water used to generate power for instance, if the source of power is from a seasonal water source then the likelihood of maintaining constant supply of hydroelectricity is lower (Schramm, 1979). In addition, the hydroelectric power sources where the water is constantly supplied especially through oceans and seas are likely to have reliable and independent power which could not be interrupted by the climatic weather changes. Hence it is adept to state that the sustainability of hydroelectric power generally depends on the reliability of the water source (Huggins, 2010).

Hydroelectric power is reliable although it would reach a time when the major water sources experience high precipitation and a time of low precipitation, this would alters the water cycle limiting the plant from continuous operation. Once this happens the cost of energy would hike within a short while (Schramm, 1979). Any increase in fuel cost directly impacts on common man hence it is adept to conclude that the reliability and sustainability of hydroelectric power is directly depended on water availability (Daglis, 2004).

The generation of hydroelectric power

To generate hydro electric power, the plant is constructed at a strategic point where there is the likelihood of water flowing with high force due to natural gravitational force. A reservoir is built on a raised ground behind the hydroelectric power plant with a system that enables water to flow through the intake point through a filter that filter large debris that would flow in to the power generation system (Huggins, 2010).

The water is then channeled through a large pipe referred to as a penstock directly to the turbine. Through the influence of gravitational force; however, the turbine is made in a way that it allows fish to pass through unharmed. Within the generator, there is a shaft coil made of copper wire, once the shaft rotates it spins the coil within a ring magnet creating an electric field which is then harvested and sent to the power switchboard (Schramm, 1979).

At the switchboard, there are transformers to step up the hydroelectric power (the alternating voltage). Capacitor banks are also availed in the power systems to smoothen any direct current voltage so that only alternating power would be supplied to the electric grid awaiting supply and connection to either industrial or domestic users (Daglis, 2004).

The water would flow out of the turbine back into the downstream river so that the same water would be reused for generation. However, as the water goes through the turbine minimal volume is lost through absorption and spillage hence the volume of water decreases at a decreasing rate which is negligible (Huggins, 2010).

Uses of Hydroelectric power

Just like power generated through fossil fuel, geothermal, wind, solar and other sources would be used in a myriad ways, hydro electric power also works the same (Schramm, 1979). Infact once the power is generated and transported to the national power grid, any consumer be it commercial plant or domestic consumer is able to request for connection and be granted the power (Daglis, 2004).

Cases where hydro electric power among other power sources are solely used for single designated functions are rarely experienced especially when industrial plant wastes are recycled to regenerate power to lower the cost of power obtained from the national grid (Huggins, 2010).

The power would be of substantial use in for agricultural purposes for instance pumping water to the farms especially in areas which experiences low rainfall since the power is generated from water; this would be s milestone in productivity (Daglis, 2004).

The hydro electric power plant can be used as an industry to generate revenue through export of hydro electricity thereby generating the necessary capital that would finance societal projects. Through project financing, the people, country, and the global community would pull together and achieve economic self reliance which is among the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (Schramm, 1979).

Availability of hydroelectric power would drastically lower the cost of electricity since the power generation process is less costly hence, it would cater for both the rich and the poor opening more ways for self employment for instance; the idling youths would derive better ways to utilize the availability of cheap power for example, opening barber shops and salons (Schramm, 1979).

Effects on hydroelectric power on the environment

Hydro electric power is ranked among the clean sources of power that does not cause air pollution although it affects the environment. Construction of hydro electric power has got both negative and positive effects to the environment, during the construction of dams that are used as reservoirs the water movement patterns are altered including the volume of water that flows across a river (Daglis, 2004).

This affects the lives of plants and animals other than the natural resources within the environment. The lives of aquatic animals and reptiles are also affected for instance, modern dams are constructed with fish elevators, fish ladders and other devices that would help fish swim up the river. This is among other environmental effects that results from construction of hydroelectric power (Huggins, 2010).

The flowing water which is the main driving force in the hydroelectric power plant is considered to be a positive effect to the environment since it is renewable, dean and replenished by the water movement (cycle) (Huggins, 2010). There are a number of benefits of constructing hydro electric power plant in to the environment for instance, reservoir dams are effective in flood control since floods naturally erodes the fertile soil that would be used for agricultural production leaving behind deep valleys that are also dangerous to both man and animals (Daglis, 2004).

Since the source of hydroelectric power does not emit any gas to the atmosphere, it does not contribute to global warming which results from then depletion of the ozone layer hence it encourages co-existence and favorable climatic conditions for human habitation (Schramm, 1979). However, the dams would also be beneficial especially for fishing, boating, swimming and recreational activities (Huggins, 2010).

The presence of a power plant in an area is likely to benefit the local community through demand for basic and secondary human needs. This calls for entrepreneurship which would develop the area into a market centre for economic benefits hence it would be economically viable to have many hydroelectric power plants constructed in order to achieve millennium development goals within a global perspective (Schramm, 1979).


Hydroelectric power is obtained from water; however, it would be sustainable only when the source of water used to run the turbines is unlimited. Just like any other source of power hydroelectric power can be used for both domestic and industrial purposes being that it cheap to derive and maintain the power. The power source has got both positive and negative effects to the environment although it could be considered as a good source of power since its positive effects outweighs negative environmental effects.


  • It is recommended that such power plants should be constructed to lower the level and rates of ozone layer depletion which impacts on the global climatic change.
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hydroelectric power plant
hydroelectric power plant
From: neimon2 (paused)
writingsolutions2007 is based in Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, and is a Stringer for Allvoices.
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