Water is a clean, reliable, and affordable energy resource. It is a stable option that provides resilience because of its ability to provide quick response to increased demand.
Water is a powerful force. For thousands of years, the power of water from gravity has been harnessed for labor-intense tasks, such as waterwheels in mills to grind grain into flour or to cut lumber. In the late 1800s, water began to be used as a fuel source to generate electricity, also known as hydroelectric power or hydroelectricity.
How Does Hydro Work?
To create hydroelectricity, water is captured through a dam or a diversion structure, then water is moved to a turbine which generates electricity. There are four types of hydroelectric plants.
Did You Know?
- In Indiana, hydroelectric power serves approximately 3% of the state’s electricity needs, in the U.S., it contributes approximately 7% of all electricity.
- Hydroelectric facilities are among the most resilient power plants. The average lifespan of a hydroelectric facility is 100 years, but with ongoing upgrades can operate well beyond that.
- Impoundments. Water is collected by a dam, and the water is released when energy is needed. Most dams were built for water management purposes, such flood control and irrigation.
- Diversion facilities. Also known as "run-of-river," these facilities channel flowing water through a series of canals to power turbines. Most hydroelectric facilities in Indiana are diversion facilities.
- Pumped storage facilities. Water is pumped from a lower elevation reservoir into a higher elevation reservoir. Water is stored for later use and when energy is needed, water is released from the higher to the lower reservoir through turbines that generate electricity.
- Offshore (marine). Although not an option for Indiana, technologies use the power of waves, tidal, and ocean currents.
There are currently five utility-operated hydroelectric facilities in Indiana. Each of these are run-of-river facilities, using the flow of the river.
|Utility||Facility Name||MW||Water Source||County|
|I&M||Elkhart||3.0||St. Joseph River||Elkhard|
|I&M||Twin Branch||4.0||St. Joseph River||St. Joseph|
|NIPSCO||Norway||7.2||Tippecanoe River; Lake Shafer||White|
|NIPSCO||Oakdale||9.2||Tippecanoe River; Lake Freeman||Carroll|
|Duke Energy||Markland||45.0||Ohio River||Switzerland|