Thomas Bauer, Dorle Lohn, Benjamin Best, Philipp Schneider, Monika Saak, Georg Kobschätzky, Michael Blinzler
Status: Mar 2023

Hydropower is one of the oldest energy sources of mankind. This type of energy generation has been perfected over centuries. Even today, many people think of hydropower when they want to promote the expansion of renewable energies.

But how do you generate energy with hydropower and how large could the share of hydropower in our energy supply be in the future?


Energy generation with a hydroelectric power plant

The principle of a hydroelectric power plant is relatively simple. For a river to flow, there must be a gradient, which means that water is on higher ground and flows to lower ground. The water therefore has height energy. This height energy is used and converted into electrical energy by a turbine that drives a generator. The hydroelectric power plant is therefore an ideal example to discuss altitude energy and energy conversions.

>>Worksheet Energy generation at a hydroelectric power plant:

- Gymnasium (docx/pdf)
- Realschule (docx/pdf)


Estimation of the potential of hydropower

Instead of calculating the height energy of a high diver, one can also apply the height energy and the corresponding formula to the hydropower plant.

Based on the average precipitation, there is an interesting possibility to estimate Germany's potential of hydropower very easily and one finds out that this potential is only about 1 kWh per person and day, even if it would be completely siphoned off. This is very little compared to the 120 kWh per person per day that Germany uses every day. It also shows the students that suggestions like "just copy Austria and Norway" are unrealistic.

>>Worksheet Estimation of the Potential of Hydropower

- Gymnasium (docx)
- Realschule (docx/pdf)

The above two topics are combined on the middle school (Hauptschule) worksheet in one handout:

>> Worksheet students (docx) / teachers (docx)


Here you will find experiments for your lessons on hydropower.