Fast Facts

What is Waterpower? 

We use the term “hydro” interchangeably with “electricity”. We tend to use terms such as hydro bill or hydro pole. This is because up until the late 1950s all of Ontario’s energy needs were met by hydroelectric generation. In countless towns and cities across the province, the very identity of the community is inextricably linked with the generation of electricity from falling water. 

There are 224 waterpower facilities across Ontario, many of which have been in operation for more than a century. Waterpower generation accounts for 24% of the province’s supply mix. The OWA has identified more than 5,000 MW of untapped potential in Ontario. A recent socio-economic report commissioned by the OWA, forecasts that waterpower generators will spend $2.4B in the next five year on their existing assets. 

There are 224 operating waterpower facilities in Ontario

approximately 5000 MW of untapped waterpower potential has been identified in Ontario

%

24% of Ontario's electricity needs comes from waterpower generation

Waterpower generators plan to invest $2.4B in their existing assets over the next 5 years

How does waterpower work?

In order to convert the potential energy of water to electricity, waterpower facilities use either a natural drop in elevation like at Niagara Falls or create a drop using dams. The amount of electricity generated depends on the vertical distance of the waterfall and the volume of water. Water from the river or reservoir behind the dam flows in through an opening called the intake. From the intake, water flows under pressure through a pipe called the penstock. A turbine is located at the end of the penstock. The force of the water turns the blades of the turbine which then turns the shaft inside the turbine. The shaft inside the turbine is connected to a generator, which generates electricity. Once the water passes the turbine it flows through a draft tube out of the station and back into the river.