Hydroelectric dam

Cross section of a typical hydroelectric dam.

Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy, accounting for 16 percent of Union electricity generation.

Where feasible to construct, the cost of hydroelectricity is relatively low, making it a competitive source of renewable electricity. It is also a flexible source of electricity since the amount produced by the station can be changed up or down very quickly to adapt to changing energy demands. However, damming interrupts the flow of rivers and can harm local ecosystems, and building large dams and reservoirs often involves displacing people and wildlife. Once a hydroelectric complex is constructed, the project produces no direct waste, and has a considerably lower output level of carbon dioxide (CO2) than many other types of energy plants.

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