Water is one of the most safe and sustainable "green" energy sources. Hydroelectric power plants convert the energy of water flow into electrical energy without harmful emissions. At the same time, just a few minutes are enough to run hydroelectric plant at maximum power. The most of the hydropower plants in Russia are operated by "RusHydro" company - the third in the world in terms of installed capacity after the Canadian Hydro-Québec and Brazilian Eletrobras.
1. How the HPP began
The water wheel was the first reliable, versatile and easy to use engine in the history of mankind. It is not known when and by whom it was invented, but it is clear that is a few thousand years. Description of the "undershot") water wheel is already in the "10 books about architecture" treatise of the Roman Vitruvius.
It became clear soon that the wheels can not only pump the water, but for example grind grain. Appearance of the first mills was sung by Antipart , Cicero contemporary poet. He wrote almost 100 years before the Christian era: "Let your hands rest, oh workers, and sleep peacefully! Daeo entrusted women work to the nymphs, and they are easily jumping on the wheels now, so that axes shaken by them revolve with their needles and cause the rotation of a heavy millstone".
Of course, long 20 centuries still were before industrial HPPs, but the start had been made.
2. The largest hydroelectric power station in Russia
Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station in the Republic of Khakassia is the Russia's largest station. Its unique arch-gravity dam with height of 245 meters is the highest in the country and one of the highest in the world. The liquid glass laid during the construction of the dam would be enough to build a motorway from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. The station name is derived from the names of the Sayan Mountains and the nearby village of Shushenskoye, which is widely known as a place of an exile of Vladimir Lenin.
The construction of the Sayano-Shushenskaya power plant started in 1963 was officially completed only in 2000. Now the station is fully equipped with new and modern equipment manufactured by OJSC "Power Machines". The new equipment has improved performance corresponding to all the requirements of reliability and security. The service life of the new units is increased to 40 years, with a maximum efficiency of hydro turbine is 96.6% no other power plants, except Sayano-Shushenskaya power plant, have such characteristics.
3. The biggest hydropower plant in the world
The most powerful hydroelectric power station in the world is the "Three Gorges", located in China. The height of the dam is 185 meters and the length is 2309 meters. In addition "Three Gorges" hydropower plant still holds the record for the number of generated energy. The station has a total installed capacity of about 22 500 MW and an annual output of about 100 billion kWh, accounting for 11% of all the hydropower in China.
1.3 million people were relocated for the construction of the hydroelectric power station. The plant has 32 generators, each of which generates 700 MW. All 32 generators will eventually produce 22,400 MW. Reservoir, formed after the construction of the dam, prostrates on the 360 miles along the river - a distance equal to half the length of the state of California in the United States.
4. Safety of HPP for the environment: Myth or Reality?
Nizhne-Bureyskaya HPP, construction of which is carried out by "RusHydro" on the Bureya river, is recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly hydroelectric power station in the Amur basin. It is shown by the study of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Russia), published in July, 2015. The study conducted Russia's first strategic environmental assessment of the impact of hydropower on the river basin.
According to the results of the WWF environmental assessment being under construction Nizhne-Bureyskaya HPP and Nizhne-Nimanskaya, Nizhne-Zeyskaya and Gilyuyskaya hydroelectric plants are included in the top ten of the 46 projects examined.
Experts noted that the negative impact of hydropower plants on the environment was much weaker than previously thought. Such parameters as a change in the hydrological regime of the river below the hydroelectric power station, the transformation of ecosystems in the zone of influence of the reservoir, the degree of fragmentation and the blocking of the river basin by the hydroelectric dams, changes in sediment load were taken into account in the environmental part of the work.
One of the examples proving the results of the research is the situation in the Khingan Reserve region: the territory previously flooded once in 20 years, but the presence of hydroelectric plant allowed reducing this number to less than once in 100 years.
5. Leaders in the production and development of hydropower
The absolute leader in the development of hydropower per capita is Iceland. Besides it, the figure is highest in Norway (the share of hydropower plants in total generation is 98%), Canada and Sweden. In Paraguay 100% of the energy produced is generated by the hydropower plants.
Now the largest producers of hydropower in absolute terms are China, Canada, Brazil and the United States, Russia closes the top five. However, most of the hydro potential has already been exploited in developed countries, in particular, in Europe it is 75%, in North America - 70%, and the opportunities for the construction of large hydropower plants are almost exhausted.