Types

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Types of Hydropower

Impoundment
An impoundment facility, typically a large hydropower system, uses a dam to store river water in a reservoir. The water may be released either to meet changing electricity needs or to maintain a constant reservoir level.

Diversion
A diversion, sometimes called run-of-river, facility channels a portion of a river through a canal or penstock. It may not require the use of a dam.

Pumped Storage
When the demand for electricity is low, a pumped storage facility stores energy by pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir. During periods of high electrical demand, the water is released back to the lower reservoir to generate electricity.

Sizes of Hydropower Plants

Facilities range in size from large power plants that supply many consumers with electricity to small and micro plants that individuals operate for their own energy needs or to sell power to utilities.

Large Hydropower
Although definitions vary, DOE defines large hydropower as facilities that have a capacity of more than 30 megawatts.

Small Hydropower
Although definitions vary, DOE defines small hydropower as facilities that have a capacity of 0.1 to 30 megawatts.

Micro Hydropower
A micro hydropower plant has a capacity of up to 100 kilowatts (0.1 megawatts).