Hydroelectric power acquires energy from moving/flowing water to start a turbine linked to an electric generator. The power that is produced depends on the speed and volume of water. There is more energy generated with fast-moving water.
Hydropower plants differ in type and size. Projects depend on local conditions as well as the feasibility of an area or site. Reservoir hydroelectric power utilizes a dam that serves to store river water and release it when needed. This type of hydropower can offer peak demand and baseload because it can start-up or shut down quickly.
Moreover, it provides enough capacity to function independently for weeks or years. However, it also depends on patterns of precipitation, which is unpredictable.
Run-of-river hydropower is constructed on a river or stream, and its facilities are generally located near waterfalls, cliffs, or rapids.
Modern turbines allow run-of-river projects to run in sites or areas with no differences in height and low flow. The expanse of these types of developments in Canada ranges from <1MW to approximately 1,900 MW.
Pumped-storage hydroelectric power causes water to move between reservoirs. When the demand is low, electrical power is utilized to move water towards the elevated reservoir. When demand increases, water is discharged to the lower tank by a turbine.
Key Statistics of Hydroelectric Power in Canada (2019)
- Installed capacity is 81,286 MW
- Hydropower generation is 398.00 TWh
- The installed capacity of pumped storage is 177 MW
- Canada’s share of generation is 59.6%
For over a century, hydroelectric power has been Canada’s primary source of electricity generation. Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia use hydropower to meet their electricity needs.
All territories and provinces generate hydroelectricity, except for PEI and Nunavut.
In 2015, several hydropower projects were constructed and developed, including Site-C (100MW) in British Columbia, the Keeyask project (695 MW) in Manitoba, as well as two generation units in Quebec and Labrador. The combined capacity of these generation units is as follows: La Romaine had 640MW and Muskrat Falls 824 MW.