eli5 If the pressure in water pipes can drive turbines etc, how do we generates this pressure?


I’m assuming the answer is “massive pumps running off fossil fuels”

In: 9

Yes, typically.

For local distribution pumps run at night when electricity demand is low to fill water towers. This “stores” the pressure for later using gravity.

In a hydroelectric dam, the turbines are run by water falling from the top of the reservoir to the bottom.

Ever seen water towers? Their goal is to put the water higher than where it will be used, this ensures that the pipes are under constant pressure.

Obviously the water has to be pumped up there in the first place, either by using fossil fuel energy or renewable energy.

Gravity mostly.

Water wants to run downhill and if you build a gigantic dam in the way of a river and only allow it to flow though a set of small pipes you can use that to generate lot of electricity.

In some cases reservoirs are sued a s giant batteries for the power grid.

Electricity is also used at some points to pump water up and generated later by letting the water flow through a generator t get electricity.

Ok, so if you put an electricity generating turbine in pretty much every pipe, would that require more energy to pump through the system?

Below would only work if you’re not using fossil fuels to create the pressure right? And is there a limit on what you could get from a system?


For the most part it’s gravity, IE modern plumping bringing you water. In some case you will simulate that pressure using fossil fuel, there has also been some pretty good tidal wave turbine generator that work in the same way as well.

– Burn fossil fuels, boil water, create steam and pressure to turn turbines.
– Create controlled nuclear reaction, which causes nuclear fuel rods to get extremely hot, water boils to make steam and spins turbines
– Hydro dam. Gravity from the reservoir above create massive differential pressure, whi h can spin turbines.

I wonder: in the contract with your water supplier (for the water at home) would there be a part that you can not use the energy of the water? Like you only pay for the water itself but it’s forbidden to use the energy of the pressure of the water to generate electricity.