Water energy:

We can define energy as the ability to do work; energy is used to make movements. Water has energy embedded within it. The water has kinetic energy which is used for all its movements for running down the stream. The water that is not in motion or the stored water has potential energy. This energy is not used by the water directly. This potential energy is converted into kinetic energy and this gets converted into mechanical energy which in turn gets converted to electrical energy.

As we all know energy cannot be created it is just the transformation of one form to another, so the stored potential energy is used to produce electricity. This is the major process that happens in all hydroelectric power stations.

Water is the main driving force in the thermal power stations. In thermal power stations water is heated up into steam and the steam is used to run the turbines to generate power.

Let’s see everything in detail.

Water and energy:

Energy and water are interlinked. Water has energy within it. The stored water or the moving water has energy in it.  The sun heats up the hydrologic cycle and thus water is provided. The moisture in air reaches the earth’s surface as precipitation. A portion of that gets evaporated and a portion reaches the soil as surface runoff. The other named sources of water are melting snow and rain. The water that reaches the ground is collected in lakes, ponds, reservoir, ocean for the future use and in these places evaporation occurs and water cycle continues.



Can water generate power:

When water flows or falls down from height energy is generated and this energy is made to pass through series of process and through turbines and generators to generate electricity. The power thus generated is called hydro electric power. This is from a renewable source as water can be renewed and used.



Hydroelectricity is generated from the force of falling of running water. The capacity to produce this energy depends on two factors namely the amount of flow and the height of fall. This is why water reservoirs or build at a height. The water is made to accumulate and the potential energy of the stored water is converted into electric power when it flows down from heights.



The use of water energy dates very long back to Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt who used water for irrigation. Water clocks were being used since early 2nd millennium BC.  Water wheels were built to grind flour, stone and sawing timber in imperial Rome. In most of the countries including china “pot wheel” pumps that are used to provide water for irrigation is operated by water energy.

The French engineer Bernard forest de belidor, in 1753 published “Architecture Hydraulique” that described vertical and horizontal –axis hydraulic machines. During 75th AD a method called hushing was developed. The water is stored in tanks and made to release; the water that waves out generates power and this wave power is used in extraction of metal ores. This is called as hushing. During California gold rush this method evolved into hydraulic mining.


History (Continue):

In 1830 hydropower generated energy to transport barge traffic up and down steep hills in U.S. later the open water wheels developed into enclosed turbine. In 1848 a head engineer named James B. Francis of Lowell’s Lock and Canals Company developed a turbine with 90% efficiency. In 1870’s Lester Allan Pelton developed high efficiency Pelton wheel impulse turbine which used hydropower from high head streams which is the character of the mountainous California interior.

In 1878 the main principle of hydroelectricity production was employed. The gravitational force which gives water energy and motion is used to generate power. When the fast moving water strikes the turbine blades it rotates this produces mechanical energy which is converted into electrical energy by the generators.


Tidal Energy:

As an alternative to this type of water energy separation now developments have been made to use the energy of tides. Water that flows in and out of the coasts and estuaries are used to spin turbines and electricity is produced from that. More analysis are going on in this area to make use of the energy but as of now only minimal production is contributed by them and some constraints like the put up cost and the damage of the materials due to saltwater corrosion is also been taken into account. But some countries like France and Canada who own the largest tidal energy facilities are making use of the tidal energy.



The major advantage of using water energy is that it is available 24/7. The emission of toxic gases is also low when compared to other power plants. The water can be used from fishing and irrigation. The water can be stored in large quantities during rain and floods and can be provided during drought conditions.


Contribution of water energy in world electricity production:

Hydropower supplies more than 20% of the world’s total electricity.


Hydroelectric power contributon



New Zealand



25 %




Steam energy


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