100 Year old Tunnel: Toronto Power Company Hydroelectric Plant, Niagara Falls, Ontario

By | March 5, 2008


Imagine a tunnel more than ten storeys underground, a hundred years old, bricklined, wet, and completely inaccessible save by descending through a narrow slit in its ceiling thirty feet above the floor, and then returning up the same rope you came down.

Now imagine that this tunnel flows into Niagara Falls, emerging behind the pummeling curtain of water that nearly everyone in North America journeys to see at some point in their lives.

This tunnel exists. In the autumn of 2004, thanks to the work of two people with the experience and equipment to make it happen, I had the chance to feel Niagara Falls. – vanishingpoint


One thought on “100 Year old Tunnel: Toronto Power Company Hydroelectric Plant, Niagara Falls, Ontario

  1. Sepp

    Hi Xeno,

    the article you reference here says:

    Hydroelectric generating stations work by capturing the kinetic energy of falling water and converting it into mechanical energy using a turbine and then into electricity in a generator mounted at the other end of the turbine.

    That is actually not quite true.

    To this day, hydroelectric generating stations work exclusively by harnessing the water pressure built up by an altitude differential between the head (or the top of the water reservoir) and the actual generator. That pressure is released at the generator site and is what turns the turbine.

    What’s the difference, you might say.

    Well, pressure is much more inefficient than kinetic energy. If you could permit the acceleration of a water flow to high speed, you’d have a much more efficient utilization of water power than by keeping a static reservoir and only releasing the pressure at the turbine site.

    More discussion in Dynamic Hydropower.

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