Hydropower is a renewable energy source created by the force of moving water. People can capture the energy and convert it into electricity by building dams and hydroelectric power plants. It is non-polluting and it uses falling water, which is a free source of energy.  Hydropower is also referred to as ‘hydroelectric power.’


Utility-scale Hydroelectric Plants


These generate electricity which is then transported from the plant on high-voltage power lines such as those at the Hover Dam in Nevada.

Aerial view of the Colorado River and Hoover Dam, a snapshot taken from a helicopter on the border of Arizona and Nevada, USA



These systems use flowing water in streams and rivers on a smaller scale to run micro-turbines.  A typical “turbine” is the waterwheel. Other types include a series of cups attached to a hub where water aimed at the cups causes the turbine to spin. Also referred to as 'micro-hydro.'


Ocean Thermal

Ocean systems, primarily utility-scale, use water from off-shore coastal regions to generate electricity by means of processes known as ‘ocean-thermal-electric generation' (OTEG) and ‘ocean-thermal-energy conversion (OTEC). 

  Tidal energy illustration

 Tidal energy illustration

Ocean Tidal Wave-action

These systems, also primarily utility-scale, use water in motion caused by ocean tides and shoreline wave action is used to generate electricity. SRI International has announced the deployment of a prototype buoy-mounted, ocean wave-powered generator off the coast of Florida in the Tampa Bay. The electroactive polymer artificial muscle (EPAM™) technology is used to produce electricity as they bob up and down attached to buoys.

Tidal and river turbine    

Tidal and river turbine