Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines

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What You Should Know About Hydroelectric Dams
By Knight Lazarus
*The Best Collection of Information About Dams and Electricity on Steam!*

Hydroelectric dams are a bloody pain to build, but knowing where to build one will save you time, money and space! The effectiveness of your power production is really up to you. If you know where to build what and when, then you will produce as much power as you need at the most practical cost per MW in any given set of circumstances. Every means of electric production is intuitive to the player, except for hydroelectric dams, apparently. So, what is the secret to building a good dam? Hydroelectric dam placement has everything to do with the water flow mechanics in the game. Oh gawd, physics lesson!

Damn Basics
A fundamental characteristic of water in the game is its tendeny to flow downward due to gravity. The water will flow to the most accessible low point. When the water has no where to go but through the dam? The water will only flow through the dam if its surface meets very near the height of the dam. When it does meet and the water on the other side of the dam is near the base? #Cha-ching!

Until the water reaches about the same height of the dam, you will not produce any hydroelectricity. It's somewhat like a straw that you place above the surface of the fluid in your glass. You're not going to get any pressure to draw the fluid into your mouth. Similarly, if the water surface is not sufficiently above the dam intake, then the dam is not yet operational. #Pressure!

The second thing to keep in mind is that length does not matter as much as height. It's all in the height. Again, gravity! The farther the water falls, the more potential energy your dam will harness.

The real trick is placing your dam at a height and length so that water upstream does not find a path through terrain that is at a lower elevation than the height of the dam. Rule of thumb: always place the height of the dam at an elevation lower than the terrain surrounding the upstream water. In other words, the dam should not exceed the highest elevations of the upstream terrain! #Always!

Gravity! Height Vs. Length! Terrain Elevation! #Don'tForget

Location Finding
When considering a hydroelectric dam, ask yourself:

  • Are there any deep rivers going between cliffs on this map?
  • Is the river's inflow at the edge of the map?
  • Can you place a hydroelectic dam as close to the map's edge as possible?
  • Is there a waterfall on the map that you can exploit?

Upon finding a potential location, check the area with plans of dams using the dam tool and consider:

  • Will the currents sufficiently raise the banks, meet the dam's height, and feed water to the dam continuously?
  • Will the dam be cost effective?
  • Will the dam and the resulting reservior of water it holds take up more space than your power alternatives?
  • Will the water find an easier route down past the dam?
  • Will this cause a flood that drowns your citizens? #Sadface!
  • Are there better power alternatives for your city right now?

If your answers to these questions do not correspond to implenting your proposal, then I advise you consider other options. Otherwise, build the damn thing! #Didyougetit?
Cost Effectiveness
You should always keep in mind the cost effectiveness of your power grid when planning to expand upon it. Think about cost per MW!

  • At 427MW, a dam is better than a solar plant.
  • At 321MW, a dam is better than any wind plant.
  • At 257MW, a dam is better than a nuclear plant. (Not considering 1.92k m³ water / week!)
  • At 229MW, a dam is better than a coal plant. (Not considering cost of resource burned!)
  • At 201MW, a dam is better than an oil plant. (Not considering cost of resource burned!)
  • At 27MW, a dam is better than an incineration plant. (Just burn garbage with it!)

This considered, the goal of your city should be fusion power! But you need plenty of power until you get there. A fusion plant produces 16GW for only 8,000€. 1/2€ per MW!

To get the most out of your power plants, you should budget your grid at 150% if needed. Conversely, you can conserve power and money by lowering the budget. Roughly 108% - 115% is most cost-effective in the budget panel.

The budget is not linearly proportional to power production.

Upgrading to Fusion Power
Fusion Power is your primary goal. Once you have it, forget dams, wind, solar and nuclear. Nothing compares to the supremacy of fusion power!

To unlock fusion, you need 6 unique buildings (in bold, prerequisite in regular) and 65k population:

3 Full Cemeteries -> Plaza of the Dead
1 Full Lifetime -> Fountain of Life and Death
3 Water Pumps for 1k Days -> Tax Office
1k Abandoned Buildings for 5 Weeks -> Observatory
5k Full Lifespans Over Time -> Science Center
50% Highly Educated -> Modern Art Museum

Uh, good luck, you are on your own in this endeavor!

Failure should not be an option! On some maps and playthroughs, you and your city will be better off if you just take an alternative path of power production. Do what is most cost effective per MW, but what also delivers. Sometimes, hydroelectric dams just are not damn practical. Go solar or wind until you can get fusion!

If you want a go with a city-building and damn-building map, try Islands! #ILoveComments!

Did you like my dam puns and #hashtags?
Guide to Dams, Levees, and Water Control

PROtips for Skylines

Electricity and the best power plants [1.2]

Why don't these dams work[]

A in-depth Guide on Hydro Power Plants[]

Hydro-Dam Fail in Cities: Skylines

Cities Skylines: The Great Flood

Cities: Skylines Dam Placement Epic Failure

Cities: Skylines Lets Play Part 29 ► Hydro Electric Dam and Airport Parking! ◀ Gameplay / Tips

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NoTruePunk Nov 18, 2018 @ 3:45pm 
It's worth noting that you can pump sewage uphill at no additional cost. Run it through a damn as it falls back down and you've got #PoopPower
Double_Jay Nov 28, 2016 @ 11:00am 
Did you like my dam puns and #hashtags?
they gave me terminal cancer... thanks.
FreekShow Nov 24, 2016 @ 3:50am 
I f-ed myself hard by building a dam. I had an immediate big lack of power (just after the Metropolis milestone, maybe it was the airport). I built a dam. The level of the river sunk, so that water pumps didnt work. The river also got polluted (fault of a lack of water treament plans?) up to the height of the pumps. Water contaminated, people sick, not enough hospitals, low land value. Game over xD
Tøðibóndin Sep 10, 2016 @ 3:45pm 
Mine is giving a 2100 MW so i dont need anything else for a while :D
Copperpug Feb 27, 2016 @ 3:21pm 
was able to get 640mw
Dugunthi Jul 1, 2015 @ 2:21pm 
Bummer. That reeks of emotional bias. I'll have that modded when I get the game.
Knight Lazarus  [author] Jun 30, 2015 @ 11:31pm 
Yes Campylobacter, but hydro can be more cost effective than everything but fusion. Go for fusion!
Dugunthi Jun 28, 2015 @ 1:39pm 
Wait, solar and wind are more cost-effective than nuclear energy in this game?
akot783 Mar 28, 2015 @ 9:37pm 
Good write up. Thx
Lev Mar 26, 2015 @ 12:29am 
you're gonna like what happens with the water vessel routes. (the word confused comes to mind, not to mention the screen)