Hydroelectric Power And Geothermal Power
The energy of flowing or falling water can be extracted and transformed into electricity. Hydropower is primarily used to generate electricity and is one of the most widely used forms of renewable energy. Approximately 21% from the whole renewable energy generated is by using hydropower.
The forces of water have been used since ancient times for mechanical devices like water mills, sawmills or for irrigations.
Compared with other forms of generated electricity from renewable sources, hydroelectricity power plants can be easily regulated to generate power when needed and have a more predictable load factor.
Currently there are several widely used forms of water power.
The most conventional hydroelectric power generation comes from dammed water. The energy of water contained in a dam, drives a water turbine which drives a generator and this produce electricity.
For high pick demand, electricity can be generated using a very efficient method by pumping stored water between reservoirs at different elevations. This type of generating system improves the capacity production of electricity and is very important for grid energy storage on a large commercial scale.
Pumped storage power station can be constructed on ground level but, it can be also constructed as underground power stations and it work with the same efficiency. This use off-peak cheap power to pump water from a lower reservoir to upper one and during peak demands this water is used for generating power.
The water from rivers and streams can be use to produce electricity. These hydroelectric power stations called as 'run-of-the-river' systems, capture the kinetic energy of rivers and streams and transform into electricity. Most of these power stations have a small or no reservoirs and are used for generating power at the moment when water passes the station.
Large scale hydro-systems are generally considered those power producing facilities capable to produce more than 100 KW. They are using a dam to generate electricity and therefore the construction of large scale power stations has an environmental impact in term of natural habitat and visual impact.
Many of the large scale power stations are supplying the public electricity network, but they can be used to supply electricity for example, to aluminum industries.
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Small and Large Scale Hydroelectric Systems Suppliers
''The Iron Gate 1 and 2'', Hydroelectric Power Plants on the Danube river. Both power plants are operated in partnership between Romania and Ex-Yugoslavia and have an accumulated installed power of 2160MW for Gates 1, and 500MW for Gates 2.. Iron Gate 1 is one of the largest hydro-construction in Europe and the largest on the Danube river.
Small scale hydro-systems are usually installed along the rivers or streams, do not require a dam or a storage facility and have a lower environmental impact compared to large hydro systems. These small scale hydro schemes can be connected to the grid but can also supply electricity to small remote communities as affordable solutions for their energy needs.
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Small and Large Scale Hydroelectric Scheme Operators
Small scale hydro-system in mountains
There are some factors to be considered for all Hydro systems;
Planning and environmental licensing maybe required for hydro systems. Calculation of water volume and variations throughout the year, cost and size of the plant, land ownership and environmental impact is also a very important consideration.
The demand for electricity has encouraged people to look for other alternative sources to generate power. Geothermal power has been use for the first time in 1904 in Italy and also there in 1911 was built the first commercial geothermal power plant in the world. There is a wide variety of places on the earth where this natural heat could be found; natural hot springs, shallow grounds, aquifers or rock deep below the surface and magma. In case of a natural hot spring, hot water is captured to drive a generator for producing electricity.
When the hot water is at a deep underground level, like an aquifer, this naturally hot water can be extracted via boreholes to generate electricity.
Geothermal dry rocks can be also a great source of heat. Water is pumped deeply underground through a well into the hot rock. The circulating fluid absorbs the heat and then is returned to the surface for producing electricity.
Geothermal power plants have been built where the geothermal resources are available near the surface using a circulating fluid at a very high temperature(150°C-180°C) , but modern developments and improved technologies have allowed power stations to be built in other areas of the world using a binary cycle system. This allowed a lower fluid temperature (about 57°C) to drive a turbine and produce electricity. This new technology is mostly used today for producing geothermal electricity.
Geothermal electricity is produce in Europe in the following countries; Italy, Portugal, France, Germany and Austria.
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Geothermal Power Suppliers and Operators
Local, National and EU grants, funds and financial support are available for domestic, community and commercial Renewable Energy projects. See Information Service Category on the left hand side of the page.