Snapshot of the technology
In a hydroelectric plant the pressure of the flowing or falling water is used to power a turbine connected to an electricity generator.
Most Australian hydro power stations use dams in major river valleys. Many have facilities to pump water back into higher storage locations during off-peak times for re-use in peak times.
In 2007-08, Australia's hydroelectric generation equated to around 5% of Australia's total electricity generation.
Status of the hydroelectricity industry in Victoria
Victoria's hydroelectricity is sourced from the state's major dams, including Lake Eildon, Hume and Dartmouth.
The oldest plant presently operating is the Rubicon Scheme to the north-east of Melbourne which dates back to the 1920's. The newest is the Bogong Power station, with a capacity of 140 megawatts, which was opened in late 2009.
While we have significant hydro capacity in Victoria, the amount of electricity it generates depends on the availability of water. This means that hydro output drops significantly in years of drought.
The future for hydroelectricity
Much of Victoria's hydro electricity potential is considered to have already been developed so the potential for further growth is limited. This is due to Australia's climate and the variable rainfall, low run off and unreliable water flows. But there is some potential for small hydro generators on streams and other sites.
The infrastructure associated with developing hydroelectricity plants may also cause amenity, recreational and environmental impacts.