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How Do Conventional Hydro Plants Work?

1. Reservoir
The water is held in a reservoir, or lake, behind the dam.

2. Penstock
Penstocks lead the water into a chamber housing the turbine. The water is held at a higher elevation than the turbine, so that it can fall with enough force to strike the turbine’s blades and cause it to spin.

3. Turbine
The turbine wheel is attached by a shaft to a system of magnets and wires called a generator. As the turbine rotates, these magnets and wires also spin—producing electricity.

4. Draft Tube and Tailrace
The water returns to the river by passing through a draft tube under the turbine and into the tailrace.