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The term hydropower is a common word used to generalize the many different means of utilizing the energy in flowing water ranging from large hydroelectric power plants to systems that harness both tidal and wave power Hydroelectric facilities provide approximately 25 percent of the worlds electricity supply-with plants operating in 86 countries across the globe Carless Jennifer 1993 Hydroelectric dams produce electricity much more efficiently than other conventional sources such as coal and nuclear while also maintaining a lower price-per-kilowatt Carless Jennifer 1993 Finally hydro systems are clean meaning they release no hazardous by-products into the environment HYDROELECTRIC POWER 101 Hydropower is indirectly associated to solar energy due to the fact that the sun evaporates water from the earth Carless Jennifer 1993 The evaporated water then returns to earth in the form of rain sleet snow etc filling waterways that eventually make their way into the oceans Allaby Ian 1990 The flow of the water in these streams and rivers is what conventional hydroelectric systems use for power generation The logic behind hydroelectric power is quite elementary it simply uses the natural kinetic energy of falling water Falling water which has been stored behind a dam or else flows naturally along a river passes through a turbine which turns a generator and produces electricity more on this subject later Carless Jennifer 1993 p57 Mechanical energy can also be produced by falling water using the energy to spin a water wheel which in turn grinds grain in a mill Carless Jennifer 1993 Hydroelectric systems are the oldest and considered the most reliable type of electric generation in service today Carless Jennifer 1993 The major drawback of this form of generation is the adverse effect a drought has on the electrical output An example of this is the drought during the summer of 1988 which caused a reduction of 25 percent in the US hydropower production Carless Jennifer 1993 Conventional hydropower accounted for the
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