Hydro electric power

  • Independent source of energy
  • Produced from Multipurpose river projects which require pondage and run of the river projects, these projects do not require pondage. 
  • Water power: Running water from river streams, glaciers have been a source of motive power since ancient times and have been the earliest industrial locations even though they are in remote and often in relatively sparse mountainous areas.
  • Three important inventions which allowed water power to be used to generate electricity and has enhanced its importance as a source of power which was earlier over shadowed by use of fossil fuels.
  1. Development of hydro turbine
  2. Dynamo
  3. Cement: big dams 


1. Head of water: Potential energy or gradient of water flow is necessary for hydropower generation. Thus, naturally occurring sites close to waterfalls and rapids are preferred. Examples: Alps, Scandinavia, Rocky Mountains. Rivers with massive discharge flow but low gradients are also viable for example Volta River in Ghana. Many countries possess fall line (At which mountain streams fall to coastal plains, all along the eastern side of Appalachian). There are also artificial dams.
2. Large volume of water: Power generation is proportional to volume of water. Ex: Nile, Indus and Zaire.
3. Regular and reliable supply of water: To ensure continuity and avoid fluctuation of power production. Thus, perennial rivers are preferred. Ex: long draughts in monsoon in Savana and Mediterranean lands decrease discharge in temperate latitudes, its freezing of water. Rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year therefore it is important to build dams to store water and hence river flow can be regulated.
4. Presence of lakes in the course of river: Very useful is seasonal rainfall areas. This obviates the need of reservoir. Allows flood water can be stored easily. In the glaciated areas: Corries and ribbon lakes (Swiss and Britain)
5. Space for reservoir: Suitable location for lake creation (for ex. the destruction to human, agriculture). Gorges have natural advantages: deep, steep slopes, large capacity and usually do not have any other use like agriculture.
6. Large market: Since electricity cannot be stored or transported to large distances, hence there should be a ready market for their production. Availability of alternative fuels should be considered. Multipurpose schemes: power forms the minor component and irrigation and other uses are primary. Here HEP may form the basis of industrial development.
7. Heavy capital outlay: This is due costs of land acquisition and compensation, dam erection, power plant and transmission & round the year maintenance. Since the initial costs are so high, therefore these projects are usually undertaken by government especially the multipurpose projects.

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