Energy use of watercourses is always been a fundamental source of energy production. The energy of water flows is called hydropower potential and are among the natural wealth of each country. Its use for electricity generation in hydropower plants in different countries and different continents of the world differently. Determine the particular natural conditions and level of economic, technological and social development of the country.
Developed European countries (eg. France, England, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Finland and others) use of its hydropower potential flows to 65-95%. The Slovak Republic is currently exploited hydropower potential at 60-70% (this figure varies by springs).
Slovakia is the utilization of energy waterways to the basic source of energy production since past. This was mainly based on the development of mining undertakings involved in the mining and processing of ores of precious metals (gold, silver), ferrous metals (copper) and iron ore. Mining and smelting centers were also developing in the field of art and culture. Through them very quickly they apply the new knowledge of science and technology. Water was for mining part of his development. He served as at that time almost the only available source of energy to drive a variety of mining equipment. To ensure a sufficient build generations of our ancestors sophisticated system of water conduits and reservoirs. Known systems are particularly Banskoštiavnická, turčekovská and Doiley, built mainly in the 14th-16th century.
Use water wheel for mining purposes is documented in writing in the 13th century. It was the first device to convert water energy into mechanical energy, which is used to power elevators, mills, stupas, pumps and also in smelters. Water wheels were later, just before the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, being replaced by water turbines. Mostly due to the development of engineering in the second half of the 19th century, making it possible to convert hydropower into electricity.
On Hornáde in Cani was electrified mill as early as 1880. In 1892, it established the first mining hydroelectric power plant in Slovakia Žakarovce. By the end of the 19th century, Slovakia had built 17 hydropower plants, including most of eastern Slovakia. Their total output was 2812 HP (2067 kW). The power plants were built outside the main river beds flows because at that time it was used sailing rafts and floating timber on these flows.
According to an inventory of water projects made the tax authorities was in 1930 in Slovakia, more than 2,650 water projects serving the use of water power. Of these mixed (mechanical transmission + electricity production) and 96 independent hydropower 49. Their overall performance was 13,939 kW.
Currently in operation in Slovakia 246 hydroelectric power plants, of which 24 large (with an installed capacity of 10 MW) and 222 small (with an installed capacity of 10 MW). Overall, producing about 4,450 GWh of electricity per year. Depending on the water levels of the year and covers the annual consumption of energy from the water in the long-term average of about 15-20% of electricity consumption in Slovakia.
Energy use waterways as hydro power and small hydropower has compared the use of other energy sources (coal, nuclear) number of advantages:
It is a permanent, inexhaustible, continually renewable resource based on the hydrological cycle, saving proportional to the amount of fuel, the cost of extraction and with that often imply the devastation, transportation, and disposal of waste,
it is a source of its own, independent of the neighboring countries (with the exception of border watercourses)
it is a resource that does not pollute the air or produce waste (eg. in the fly ash thermal power plants, nuclear power plants with nuclear waste), which is then be stored respectively. somehow disposed of.
it is a quick source that can rapidly (within seconds) to respond to load changes in power system (regulating hydropower)
It requires very low operating costs for long life and high number of operating hours
requires a small number of operational staff (mostly water and small hydropower plants is fully automated and work with continuous service)
in particular small hydropower plants are spread almost throughout the country, they are close to consumers and thus have a very small transmission loss in the electricity supply
over other widely used renewable energy sources (photovoltaic, wind energy) is hydropower most predictable and stable sources of electricity supply.
hydro power plants
The European Union supports the development of renewable energy sources. In the use of hydropower in the European and in the Slovak scale rule, large hydropower sites are practically used. A significant proportion of hydropower remains contained but in smaller watercourses energy usability only in small hydroelectric plants. Regarding small hydropower plants, the EU leaders are Austria, Italy, France, Spain and Sweden. In recent years, significant development of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.
One of the reasons for the construction of small hydropower plants in Slovakia do not record significant progress, the high investment costs. Compensate for this, however, relatively low operating costs, and in general, the investment costs decline with increasing installed capacity. Economic barriers can be even longer payback term funding in 15 to 20 years, which in turn balances the long life of the plant. It is commonly estimated at 50-70 years, while the oldest small hydroelectric power plants in Slovakia are in operation for more than 100 years.
Hydro power is now globally the second largest source of electricity. Also within Europe it should be in the context of the intentions of the European Council and the European Parliament to the objective of gradually – in 2020 to increase the share of energy produced from renewable sources to the level of 20% of total EU energy consumption.