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Past, Present and Future of Hydroelectric Power Plants - Part 2: Present

written by: Haresh Khemani • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 9/29/2008

There are thousands of hydroelctric power plants throughout the world. The total power output of all these hydrolectric power plants is about 6,75,000 MW. There are some countries where all their power requirements are fulfilled by the hydroelctric power plants.

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    Status of Hydroelectric Power

    The production of electric power from hydroelectric power plants started on the small scale basis. The advantage of the hydroelectric power plants is that their life is very long and there are plants having the age of 50 to 100 years and still producing power. So at present we have large range of hydroelectric power plants producing power from hundreds of kilowatts to hundreds of megawatts. There are some hydroelectric power plants that have power generation capacity of whopping 10,000 MW that single handedly meet the electricity demands of millions of people.

    As per the survey carried out by National Renewable Energy Laboratory, total electric power production capacity of all the hydroelectric power plants throughout the world is 6,75,000 MW. This combined capacity can produce 2.3 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. This huge power is good enough to fulfill electricity demands of more than one billion people of the world or almost 24% population of the entire world.

    Surprisingly, there are some countries where their entire demand of electricity is met by the hydroelectric power plants. For instance, in the countries like Norway and Democratic Republic of Congo, almost 99% of the electric power demands were fulfilled by the hydroelectric power plants in the year 1998. Even Brazil’s 91% of power requirement was met by hydroelectricity by the same year.

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    Present Status of Hydroelectric Power in US

    In United States there are more than 2000 small, medium and large scale hydroelectric power plants. In US hydropower comprises of about 49% of the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources. In the year 1920 US produced about 16 billion kilowatt-hours of power from the hydroelectric power plants. Due to various encouraging steps taken by the government and formation of efficient commissions, this figure rose to 306 billion kilowatt-hours in the year 1999. This was only second to Canada, the largest producer of electricity from hydroelectric power plants. By the year 1999 the power produced by the hydroelectric power plants in US was almost 8% of the total power produced by all electric power generation plants.

    At this point, let me inform you that the largest hydroelectric power plant in US is Grand Coulee power station developed on Columbia River in Washington State. The power plant was built in 1942 and has the power generation capacity is 6800 MW

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    The Largest Producer of Power from Hydroelectric Power Plants

    Canada is the largest producer of electricity from hydroelectric power plants. As per the figures available from various parts of the world, Canada had hydroelectricity generation capacity of more than 340 billion kilowatt-hours of power in the year 1999. This comprises of the almost 60% of the total power requirements of Canada. The other countries that top the list in production of hydroelectricity are former Soviet Union, Brazil, China and Norway.

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