Types of hydraulic power | 2022

Hydraulic energy is that source of energy that, through water and applications of kinetic principles, produces electrical energy.

In other words, it is one of the types of energy that can generate large amounts of electrical energy. In addition, it is considered renewable, since it does not emit CO2 or use fossil fuels in any part of the process.

However, no matter what the type of hydraulic energy, it will always have two handicaps: its environmental impact (that is, the environment that surrounds it) and its great dependence on rain and river tributaries.

Characteristics of hydraulic power

The basic operation of this type of energy is simple.

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In the first place, a reservoir is needed to store the water at a height with respect to the sea, since the intention is to drop that water from a certain height and pass it through the turbines.

These turbines will rotate and will be the first stone of the gear that enables the generation of electricity.

Second, the generated energy is transferred to the electrical system, which already distributes the generated energy to homes, businesses, etc.

In the third and last place, the water that we have used will have two purposes: either for public consumption of drinking water, or else it will be deposited in the reservoir again. The deposit to the reservoir is usually done when there is an excess supply of energy in the system, or when a solar panel system supports this process.

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Thus, as long as public consumption is not excessive and the rains and the flow of the rivers maintain the level of the reservoir, it will be a great source of electrical energy.


Depending on the type of hydraulic energy, there will be different hydroelectric plants. These plants determine how energy is obtained from water, and therefore, the way it uses the environment.

Then, the different types of hydroelectric power plants that we can find are:

  • reservoir. It is the most used system and the one that we have explained in the previous section.
  • of flowing. They use the strength of the bed of one or several rivers, without the need to store water in a reservoir. This way of obtaining energy solves the handicap of environmental impact, but increases its exposure to the health of the river.

Therefore, the type of hydroelectric plant to be implemented will depend on the orography and climate of the territory.

In another order, it should be noted that energy can also be obtained from the water of the seas and oceans. The energy that takes advantage of the force of these immense amounts of water is called tidal. This type of energy generates electricity from turbines that move in the sea or ocean.

Example of use of the types of hydraulic energy

Next, depending on the characteristics of each country, it will be determined what types of hydraulic energy are convenient for them or could be used:


In the first place, Brazil, having a mostly flat orography, the type of reservoir would be limited. However, the rivers and the frequency of rains make them have a great capacity when it comes to generating flow-type energy.

On the other hand, Spain would mostly opt for the reservoir plant, due to the low flow of rivers and their reduced range.

Finally, a country like Chile could implement either of the two types of energy due to the frequent rains and the climate it has.

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