hydraulic energy


We will explain everything related to one of the most used renewable energy sources in the world , such as Hydraulic Energy and we will take into account its main environmental impacts by hydroelectric dams.

What is hydraulic energy

It is a renewable , mechanical, water or hydropower source that takes advantage of the kinetic and potential energies of the current , waterfalls, or tides for the generation of electricity through hydroelectric dams .

What is the Origin of Hydraulic Energy?

This energy source has its origins in the resources of nature such as the energy of the sun, which leads to the evaporation of water from rivers, lakes, seas and precipitation of rains in different parts of the earth .

The Greeks and the Romans took advantage of the energy of the water by means of hydraulic wheels that the animals and slaves exerted. But in the middle ages, thanks to British civil engineer John Smeaton who built large cast iron hydraulic wheels.

Thus, hydraulic energy begins to develop with more importance at the beginning of the industrial revolution and where the first hydroelectric plant was built in 1880 in Northumberland.

What are the Characteristics of Hydraulic Energy

  • It has its origin in sun energy, while producing the hydrological cycle for water bodies.
  • Energy from the use of force or water fall.
    It is renewable and mechanical.
  • It is not a clean energy and its environmental impact is reduced.
  • It does not need the use of fossil fuels.
  • It works through hydroelectric plants.
  • Its development is mainly for the generation of electricity.

How Hydraulic Energy Works

Through the generating plants called hydroelectric plants , the masses of water that come from the rivers and the force of the water that falls on the propellers of a turbine spins a generator that produces electricity .

That is, in the fall between its two levels of the channel , the water passes through a hydraulic turbine , which transmits the energy to an alternator that converts it into electrical energy .

What are the Parts of a Hydroelectric Power Plant

The main parts of a hydroelectric power plant are: forced pipe, dam, hydraulic turbine, electric generator, transformer, power lines, gates and hydraulic valves, grilles and clean bars, reservoir and river.

The electricity that is obtained from the hydraulic energy is transported by means of electric cables until it reaches the houses, factories, shops and many urban areas .

What are the types of Hydraulic Power Plants

According to its location with respect to the slope in:

  • Outdoor power stations; They are far from the dam and connected to a pressure pipe.
  • Cavern stations; connected by the combination of tunnels and pressure pipes.

According to its flow regime in:

  • Flowing water stations; It has no capacity like reservoirs, operating continuously to take advantage of the fall of water from a river.
  • Reservoir stations; It is more expensive than the previous one and they use a reservoir to store and graduate the water through a turbine.
  • Centrals of regulation; It has the capacity to store water in rivers.
  • Pumping stations; they have the capacity to transform the potential energy of water into electricity and at the same time increase the potential energy of water, allowing to supply the demand for energy during peak hours and valley hours.

Finally, according to its height of water fall in central high, medium, low, and very low pressure.

What are the Uses of Hydraulic Energy

  • Electricity generation
  • Electricity generation using marine currents.
  • Inventions such as hydraulic brakes, elevators, the hydraulic hammer and the drill in dentistry.
  • The water network by pipes.
  • Among other uses.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydraulic Energy


  • It is a renewable and inexhaustible energy source.
  • It is native, flexible and safe.
  • It produces greater energy efficiency.
  • In its operation, it does not generate toxic emissions.
  • Water storage to meet basic needs.
  • They regulate the flows of the rivers downstream
  • Fuel disposal
  • They do not directly produce carbon dioxide
  • The operating costs are low.


  • It depends on geographic, meteorological and environmental conditions.
  • The construction of large dams and reservoirs leads to the alteration of natural environments and ecosystems.
  • Alteration due to climatic phenomena.

Also read: <<  Wind Energy: Renewable Energy Source  >>

Environmental Impact of Hydroelectric Power Plants

  • Impact on the ecological balance of the area.
  • Flooding of the basin to form the reservoir.
  • Alteration of downstream flow.
  • Construction of transmission lines
  • The accumulation of sediments.

Among other impacts ranging from the alteration of the landscape to the transformation of natural resources , air, water, soil, vegetation, fauna, fishing, climate and the population close to the area.

Examples of Hydraulic Energy

Niagara Falls, hydraulic grain mills, drinking water network turbines, Salime reservoir, Guavio hydroelectric power station, Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric dam, Yacyretá-Apipé dam, Itaipu dam, Simón Bolívar hydroelectric power station, dam of the three Gorges, Xilodu Dam.

Located on the Jinsha River in southern China and Palomino hydroelectric project.


The hydraulic energy is one that, thanks to falling or force of the water from a height, produces the movement of hydraulic wheels or turbines for electricity generation.

In short, it is not a source of clean energy, but it is renewable because it takes advantage of the strength or movement of the water resource.

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