Author: Siobhan McClelland, Canadian Geographic
Publish Date: Oct 9, 2013 Last Update: Sep 21, 2018
If there is an increased electricity demand, plant operators can release more water from dams. Similarly, if demand is low, operators can store water for future use. Hydro plant operators can also store surplus water during high flows, to be used during the low season.
To produce hydroelectricity, dams release water, which falls and strikes the blades of a turbine attached to a generator to create electricity. A step-up transformer takes the electricity produced by the generator (about 25,000 volts or less) and converts it to a higher voltage (usually between about 138,000 and 500,000 volts).
The electricity is distributed along power lines to cities and towns. The James Bay project in Quebec, the largest hydro system in Canada, operates on a bigger scale: it transmits at one of the highest voltage transmissions in the world.
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