Hydraulic basin.
Hydraulic power.

History of Hydropower

History of hydropower

The earliest evidence of water wheels and watermills dates back to the 4th century BC. Specifically in the Persian Empire before 350 BC, in the regions of Iraq, Iran, and Egypt.

Roman Empire

In the Roman Empire, water-powered mills were described by Vitruvius in the 1st century BC. The Greeks and Romans initially used this type of renewable energy only to run simple water mills to grind corn. Roman hydraulic wheels were also used to saw marble.

Emergence of Hydropower in China

In China, it was theorized that its hammers and bellows were powered by water from the Han dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD). These mechanisms were powered by spoons of water, but later historians believed that they were powered by hydraulic wheels.

Islamic Golden Age

In the Muslim world during the Islamic Golden Age and the Arab Agricultural Revolution (8th-13th centuries), engineers made extensive use of hydroelectric power, as well as the earliest uses of tidal energy, [19] and large hydraulic factory complexes.

Industrial Boost

In the late Middle Ages, with the discoveries brought by the Arabs from North Africa, other methods of exploiting hydropower were used. The hydraulic wheel was used more and more, both for irrigation of fields and for the recovery of vast swampy areas.

At the beginning of the industrial revolution in Britain, water was the main source of energy for new inventions. Although the use of the power of water gave way to the steam engine in the largest mills and factories.

Emergence of the Hydraulic Turbine

Huge technical progress occurred in the late 1800s. Around the start of the Second Industrial Revolution, the hydraulic wheel evolved into the hydraulic turbine.

The hydraulic turbine is a machine built by a castor wheel on an axis. At first it was a rough and outlined axis. The turbine improved the efficiency of converting the potential energy of water into rotational kinetic energy applied to an axis.

In 1848, James B. Francis improved these designs to create a 90% efficient turbine. The Francis Turbine. Later, in the first half of the 20th century, it became increasingly sophisticated and functional.

The Francis reaction turbine is still widely used today.


Published: May 26, 2020
Last review: May 26, 2020