Today the largest use of hydropower is for the creation of hydroelectricity, which allows low cost energy to be used at long distances from the water source. Hydroelectricity is electricity generated through the production of power through use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. It is the most widely used form of renewable energy. Once a hydroelectric complex is constructed, the project produces no direct waste, and has a considerably different output level of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) than fossil fuel powered energy plants. Worldwide, hydroelectricity supplied an estimated 19% of the world's electricity and accounted for over 63% of electricity from renewable sources.
Small scale hydro or micro-hydro power has been increasingly used as an alternative energy source, especially in remote areas where other power sources are not viable. Small scale hydro power systems can be installed in small rivers or streams with little or no discernible environmental effect on things such as fish migration.
Jobs in Hydropower
As with many of the other renewable energy technologies, the design, construction, and maintenance of hydropower plants requires electrical and mechanical engineers, technicians, and skilled workers. If the hydropower project also involves managing the reservoir and the surrounding land, the developer will also hire recreation planners, resource managers, and educators. In addition, in many countries often laws now require current or prospective hydropower plant developers to assess the environmental effects of their operation. Thus, the hydropower industry now also employs environmental scientists (biologists, hydrologists, ecologists, and wildlife habitat specialists, for example) to assess environmental impacts and address environmental remediation. Environmental scientists, as well as engineers, also participate in R&D efforts through private companies, national laboratories, and universities.