Hydropower

PDF versionPDF version

Hydropower uses the energy from moving water to power machines or generate electricity. Used for over two thousand years in water mills, today hydropower is more commonly associated with electricity generation.

Basics

Photo of the McNary Dam on the Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington Border

Hydropower uses the energy from moving water to power machines or generate electricity. Used for over two thousand years in water mills, today hydropower is more commonly associated with electricity generation. Hydropower has been used to generate electricity since the late 19th century, and remains the largest source of renewable energy worldwide.
Hydroelectric power plants are usually built inside dams. The reservoir of water that collects behind the dam provides a steady supply of water, which passes through giant turbines to generate electricity. Hydropower is particularly common in places with high rainfall, such as Washington and Oregon, which together produce around 40% of the hydroelectricity generated in the United States.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Latest News

U.S. Capitol
(2016-02-02)
January 29, 2016 Last week the Senate began debate on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, the first major package of energy legislation considered in Congress since 2005. Introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the bill has received bipartisan support, passing out of committee with an...

Geological Surveys Database Publications

2011, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

1996, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

1991, Georgia Geologic Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

1996, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

1984, Maine Geological Survey
Description of National Water Use Data system and Maine Water Use Data system.
2010, United States Geological Survey
Northwest Area Facts * Population about 12 million * 43 federally recognized Tribes * Hydropower provides about two-thirds of electricity supply * 78 federally listed threatened and endangered species * 12 active or potentially active volcanoes * Columbia River system drains more than 260,000...
2018, United States Geological Survey
The Klamath River Basin stretches from the mountains and inland basins of south-central Oregon and northern California to the Pacific Ocean, spanning multiple climatic regions and encompassing a variety of ecosystems. Water quantity and water quality are important topics in the basin, because water...
2002, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

2008, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------

1994, United States Geological Survey

-------------------------- --------------------------- ------------------------ ------------------------------ ---------------------- -------------------