The natural flow of water in rivers offers kinetic energy that can be transformed into usable electrical energy. Early usages included mechanical power for transformation activities, such as milling and sawing, and for irrigation. Additionally, rivers have long been used for simpler transportation purposes, such as moving logs from forests to industrial centres.

Suitable Locations

Currently, hydroelectricity is the major form of usable energy produced from flowing water. To produce hydroelectricity, the water flow is directed at the blades of a turbine, making it spin, which causes an electrical generator connected to the turbine to spin as well and thus generate electricity.

The amount of energy extracted from flowing water depends on the volume of water and its speed. Usually, a hydroelectric station is built at a sharp incline or waterfall to take advantage of the speed gained by the water as a result of gravity.

Canada has many rivers flowing from mountainous areas toward its three bordering oceans. In 2014, Canada had 542 hydroelectric stations with 78,359 megawatts of installed capacity. These stations include 379 small hydroelectric facilities, that is, facilities with a nameplate capacity of 50 megawatts or less, and they together represent 3,600 megawatts, which is about 4.6 per cent of Canadas installed hydro capacity.