: Large Hydro-scheme components (Source: US Geological Survey, 1997)
As this chart shows, in the United States, most states make some use of hydroelectric power, although, as you can expect, states with low topographical relief, such as Florida and Kansas, produce very little hydroelectric power. But some states, such as Idaho, Washington, and Oregon use hydroelectricity as their main power source. in 1995, all of Idaho's power came from hydroelectric plants.
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Gosh, hydroelectric power sounds great -- so why don't we use it to produce all of our power? Mainly because you need lots of water and a lot of land where you can build a dam and , which all takes a LOT of money, time, and construction. In fact, most of the good spots to locate hydro plants have already been taken. In the early part of the century hydroelectric plants supplied a bit less than one-half of the nation's power, but the number is down to about 10 percent today. The trend for the future will probably be to build small-scale hydro plants that can generate electricity for a single community.
However, before selecting an appropriate site, several geologic, social, and environmental factors need to be evaluated. The process of damming a river and creating a reservoir can pose its own environmental, economic, health and social problems, among which are the displacement of floodplain residents and the loss of the most fertile and useful land in a given area.
Hydropower is used primarily to generate electricity
By 2020, China aims to produce 200–240 GW of hydroelectricity, which means adding 7–9 GW of new hydropower capacity per year. To meet this goal, China will need to build the equivalent of roughly one every 2 years. There is an enormous potential for hydroelectric power in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, especially in the section of the mainstream above Yibin and below Yushu, namely the Jinsha River. Flowing for 2,360 km from the eastern Tibetan Plateau to the low-lying Sichuan Basin, with a drop of 3,280 m, the Jinsha River has an enormous potential to supply hydropower — as high as 112.4 GW, of which about 75.120 GW is exploitable (Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, 2006).
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In Uganda, currently, only about 15% of existing hydropower potential (300 MW) in Uganda is utilised, and power demand, which is growing at a rate of 8% per year, exceeds available supply. The shortage in generation capacity limits growth in many sectors of the Ugandan economy. The Government has formulated a to guide the hydropower planning and development process in the country. The plan includes a comprehensive study of all the potential large- and small-scale hydropower schemes in the country and outlines the energy development strategy based on criteria such as power demand forecast, project generation potential, environmental effects, and cost criteria (UNESCO, no date).
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The hydropower capacity in Africa and the Middle East have not yet been widely exploited. Most of the hydroelectric power projects in the Middle East are located in Turkey and Iran. In Africa, the largest installed hydroelectric capacities are in Egypt and Congo (Kinshasa). Although several African countries – including Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Zimbabwe – rely almost exclusively on hydropower for commercial electricity generation, this is mainly because of the absence of an electricity infrastructure in these and many other African countries rather than the presence of an extensive hydroelectric system (Water Institute of South Africa, 2006).
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Canada is the world's largest hydroelectric power producer. In 1999, it generated more than 340 billion kWh of power, or 60% of its electric power. In the USA over 2,000 hydropower plants are operational which produce around half of the country’s renewable energy; in 1999, these plants produced 8% of the total US electrical power (US Department of Energy, 2005). The largest US hydropower plant is the n on the Columbia River in Washington State. Completed in 1942, the Grand Coulee today is one of the world’s largest hydropower plants, following the on the Paraná River between Paraguay and Brazil.