past, present, future
past use of hydropower
- In the 1880, hydropower was beginning to be used to make electricity. The first hydroelectric plants were direct current (DC) stations used to power nearby arc and incandescent lighting.
- Then, the first U.S. hydroelectric power plant opened on the Fox River near Appleton, Wisconsin, on September 30, 1882.
- 1893. The Austin Dam, near Austin, Texas, was completed. It was the first dam specifically designed for generating hydropower.
- 1936. Boulder Dam (later renamed the Hoover Dam) began operating on the Colorado River. The hydropower plant produced up to 130,000 kilowatts of electricity.
- 1949.Almost one-third of the Nation's electricity came from hydropower.
- 1980. Conventional hydropower plant capacity nearly tripled in United States since 1940.
- 2007. The United States ranked among the Top 4 countries in the world for hydroelectric generation, along with China, Canada, and Brazil. These countries generated 44% of the world's electricity from hydropower.
present use of hydropower
Today. Between 6% and 10% of U.S. electricity comes from hydropower, depending on water supply and annual rainfall. In total, the United States has about 80,000 megawatts of conventional capacity and 18,000 megawatts of pumped storage capacity.
future possible uses of hydropower
Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have attempted to tackle the prediction challenge. Using 12 climate models, 8 of which had to agree in order to contribute to the results, they examined how the world’s rivers will likely change over the next 40 years and what that will mean for hydropower production [see illustration, ”Projected Changes in Hydropower Generation (2050)”]. They found that while mid latitude areas will generally experience reductions in river flow and thus hydropower output, some areas, such as Northern Europe, East Africa, and Southeast Asia, will probably see a boost. Also most at-risk areas are those that have a high dependence on hydropower but will face decreasing river runoff. In Southern Africa, for instance, drier conditions could mean a decline of 70 gigawatt-hours per year in hydropower capacity by 2050. Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Venezuela, and parts of Brazil are likely to be hit hard, too. Hydropower will be more efficient as time goes along..