The adjective hydroelectric refers to belonging or related to hydropower . This term is linked to the electricity which is obtained through the hydraulic energy which is the kind of Energy generated by the water movement .
Hydraulic or water energy, therefore, takes advantage of the kinetic and potential energy of jumps, tides and water currents, forming part of the renewable energy since it does not end with its use.
It is known as hydroelectric power station to the infrastructure that uses hydraulic energy to generate electric power . Its operation is based on a waterfall that generates two levels of a channel: when the water falls from the upper level to the lower level, it passes through a hydraulic turbine that transmits energy to a generator responsible for transforming it into electrical energy.
The exploitation of hydraulic energy through a hydroelectric power station can be developed in two different ways. On the one hand, it is possible to divert a river to take advantage of the speed of its flow and generate electricity. Another option is to build a dam and intercept the water stream.
It is possible to distinguish between several types of hydroelectric power station, depending on the point of view of the analysis. If they are studied according to their flow regime, the following four are recognized:
* of flowing water: it is also known by the name of water cutting edge and uses part of the flow of a river with the objective of producing electrical energy. His work is continuous because, because he does not own a reservoir, he does not have the capacity to store water. Its turbines work directly on the water that is available at all times and can have a vertical axis (for rivers with steep slopes) or horizontal (for low slopes);
* from reservoir: This is the most common type of hydroelectric power plant. It uses a reservoir to store water and adjust the flow through the turbine. In this way, provided you have a sufficient reserve, you can produce energy throughout the year. On the other hand, the investment necessary for its creation and maintenance is greater than the alternatives;
* of regulation: it serves to store the water flowing from the river and can supply a consumption of several hours;
* pumping: also called reversibleThis type of hydroelectric power station can not only transform the potential energy of electricity into electricity, but it is also capable of carrying out the reverse process, that is, increasing its potential energy through the consumption of electrical energy. This makes it a tool for storing energy, as if it were a battery of colossal dimensions.
On the other hand, four types of hydroelectric power station can be distinguished according to the height of the water fall:
* high pressure: the height of the fall of the water is greater than 200 meters and used to be associated with the Pelton turbines, which are among the most efficient in the field of hydraulic energy;
* medium pressure: using Francis or Kaplan turbines, its drop height ranges between 20 and 200 meters;
* low pressure: their water slopes do not exceed 20 meters and use the turbines Kaplan;
* very low pressure: they use more recent technologies since Kaplan turbines do not work in cases of slopes less than 4 meters.
Finally, there is the tidal power station (which uses the ebb and flow of the tides, especially in coastal areas with very different tides from each other), the submerged tidal wave (which uses the currents submarines to get energy and dates from 2002) and a class that take advantage of the movement of the waves (first tested in 1995, in Esococia, after almost two decades of research).