One of the most non-polluting and also the cheapest sources of power is hydroelectricity. It’s true that it may cause some initial ecological damage, but it has much better compatibility with the climate than other major forms of energy, such as coal, gas, nuclear power, and others. For some top hydroelectric power countries like China and India, which have enormous energy needs, hydroelectric energy sources are the only remaining options among the sources that do not contribute to global warming. (Is global warming fake? Read here - click here).
Hydroelectric power production began on a small-scale basis. The main advantage of hydroelectric energy sources and hydroelectric power plants in general is their extremely long life span. Some of these existing plants are 50 or even 100 years old, and they are still producing electricity. So, as it currently stands, the world is producing large quantities of hydroelectric energy, some reaching production to hundreds of megawatts. Certain hydroelectric power plants have a capacity of some 10,000 megawatts, which on their own can meet the energy needs of millions of people. (To read about the advantages of hydroelectric power, click here).
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory carried out a survey, which concluded that all hydroelectric power plants worldwide have a total electricity production capacity of 6,750,000 megawatts. This capacity translates to an annual 2.3 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity, and it is enough to meet the electricity needs of almost a quarter of today’s global population (over a billion people).
The U.S. alone has more than 2000 large, medium, and small-scale hydroelectric power plants. Hydropower in the United States comprises almost half of the renewable energy sources’ total installed capacity. In 1920, about 16 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity was produced by hydroelectric power plants. In 1999 this figure increased to 306 billion kilowatt-hours due to the formation of efficient commissions as steps taken by the U.S. government.
Many countries in the world are striving to utilize renewable energy (To find out about the top 8 clean sources of energy to replace oil by 2050, click here) in an efficient way, and have high hopes for hydroelectric power towards the middle of the century. However, today’s hydroelectric production is dominated mainly by a few nations. The following is a list of nine top hydroelectric power countries:
2 - Canada – 90 gigawatts
3 - The United States – 79 gigawatts
4 - Brazil – 70 gigawatts
5 - Russia – 45 gigawatts
6 - India – 33 gigawatts
7 - Norway – 28 gigawatts. It’s worthy to point out that even though Norway is toward the bottom of this list, it produces more than 98 percent of the country’s electricity from hydroelectric plans; whereas China, while being at the top for installed capacity, produces less than 18 percent of its total electricity from hydroelectric power.
8 - Japan – 27 gigawatts
9 - Venezuela – 15 gigawatts.
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