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Hydropower

Hydro electricity is a mature renewable technology that has been around for over a century. It uses the energy of flowing water to spin a turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity to feed into the grid. And, whilst the technology is mature, there are future opportunities to install smaller-scale facilities on dams, weirs, water and sewage treatment plants and water supply pipelines, to augment existing hydro plants.

Hydro electric power facilities need dams to store the water needed to produce the electricity. These dams are often built for irrigation or drinking water, and the power station is included in the project to ensure maximum value is extracted from the water.

Hydro can provide both base load and peak load electricity; and hydro generators can start up and supply maximum power within 90 seconds.

Smaller hydro power stations, called mini or micro may not need dams but rely on naturally flowing water such as streams. These also provide a good source of power and are often used as stand-alone systems not connected to the main electricity grid.

Hydro electricity has a long and established history in the south east NSW-ACT region with the Snowy Hydro being the largest hydro electricity generator in Australia, producing some 5% of electricity used in NSW and employing nearly 500 people in the operation and maintenance of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. A Snowy Hydro modernisation plan currently underway involves a $400M replacement, upgrade and refurbishment works at the scheme.

It is estimated that there is over 4,376MW of installed hydroelectric capacity within the south east NSW-ACT region – some 4,100MW provided by the Snowy Mountains Scheme and the balance from facilities in the ShoalhavenBega ValleyYass Valley and the ACT. Opportunities to expand this established renewable energy source is currently underway in the form of mini or micro hydroelectric installations that are being built on both dams and weirs, as well as on water and sewage treatment facilities.

Pumped Hydro Storage

Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (or PHES) is a relatively new method to store energy. Similar to traditional energy storage, it can be used to generate electricity in times of peak demand and when there is not enough electrcity being generated. 

Pumped Hydro is a completely renewable source of energy, requiring water and other renewable energy technologies, to push water up a pipe to a higher water resevoir (or dam). When the energy is required, the water runs downhill using gravity, runs through a turbine, which creates electricity. 

How does it work:

 

Information above from a variety of sources including: www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au

 

Click here for a video showing how Hydro-electricity works

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