Principle & How it works

Hydroelectric power is the energy generated from flowing water in rivers, or from man-made installations where water flows from a high-level reservoir down through a tunnel and away from the dam.

Turbines placed within the flow of water extract its kinetic energy and convert it to mechanical energy. The turbines drive a generator that converts the mechanical energy into electrical energy. The amount of hydroelectric power that can be generated is related to the water flow and the vertical distance through which the water has fallen.

In the smallest hydroelectric schemes, the head of water can be a few meters; in larger schemes, the power station that houses the turbines is often hundreds of meters below the reservoir.

There are two main types of hydroelectric schemes, storage schemes and run-of-river schemes. In storage schemes, a dam impounds water in a reservoir that feeds the turbine and generator, usually located within the dam itself. Run-of-river schemes utilize the natural flow of a river.


Hydroelectricity requires no fuel and is reliable in its operation. The generated energy can be relatively easily controlled. The turbine technology is mature and therefore efficient. The plants have long lifetimes as with most renewable energy.


The main disadvantage, aside from the high capital cost, is the problems caused because of the high land use in usually eco-sensitive areas as well as the problems to the local populations near planned hydroelectric schemes. Finding a suitable site can be difficult and is usually met with by a lot of local opposition.

Where it's working (Syria, Abroad)

Water power was used for centuries to power machinery, for example for grinding corn or in mills and factories, but was largely replaced by steam power in the Industrial Revolution. Water power is now mainly used to generate electrical energy.

The Three Gorges Dam project in Hubei, China, is the world's largest hydroelectric generating system. It includes 2 generating stations. They are the Three Gorges Dam (22,500 MW when completed) and Gezhouba Dam (3,115MW). The total generating capacity of this complex is currently at 21,515 MW. The whole project is planned to be completed in 2011. The total generating capacity will be 25,615 MW by then.

The Jinsha River (the upper stream of Yangtze River) complex is the largest hydroelectric generating system currently under construction. It has 3 phases. The total capacity of the complex is 68,630 MW. The James Bay Project in Quebec, Canada, is the world's second largest hydroelectric generating system. The nine generating stations of the complex have a total generating capacity of 16,527 MW.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations carried out studies that strengthen the importance of managing Syria’s water resources. These resources include surface water & ground water . The surface water in Syria consist of a number of small rivers and lakes in the western part of the country (Quiak, Efrean,El Sin, El Kebir El Shamali, El Kebrir El Janubi, Orantes, Barada, Al Awaj, and Yarmuk rivers and Qatene Lake) and the large Euphrates River in the east with the Al Khabour and Al Baleakh tributaries and Al Assad lake. In the far east there is the Dajle river which is also a cross boundary river.

The most important hydroelectric power stations in the country are illustrated in the next table:

Dam River Installed capacity [MW]
Al-Thawra Euphrates 8*100
Al-Baath Euphrates 3*25
Tishreen Euphrates 6*105
Shezer Al-Asee 2*4
Al-rastan Al-Asee 2*4
Barada Barada 7

Besides large-scale hydro power plants, micro hydro power plants must be taken into consideration especially for isolated applications in the coastal areas of Syria. Although unexplored, they are likely to be available in the mountainous regions with good precipitation.

Future Development & integration

Unfortunately there is little room for the future development of large scale hydroelectric power stations in many parts of the developed world.

Hydroelectricity does offer an age-old storage solution that can be integrated with other renewable energy technologies. Pumped storage incorporates two reservoirs. At times of excess renewable energy output due to low demand, generally at night, electricity is used to pump water from the lower to the upper basin. This water is then released to create power at a time when demand is high. As well as offering storage solutions, pumped storage provides a rapid supply of electricity in response.

Site Constraints inc. Local Factors & Conditions

Several studies have been prepared to assess the potential of constructing hydroelectric power plants. The following table includes the most important suggested hydroelectric stations.

Station Name No. of stations Installed
per year [GWH]
Sanawbar 5 27.2 46.2 172
Ros 4 16.6 29.6 45
Goean 4 45 78 53
Al-Kamka,Abrash 2 3.6 5.5 70
The Great South 3 100 169 239
Abead-Alasee 3 12 22.6 56
North Lattakia 2 2.8 5.1 33
Afreen 2 31 50 218

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