Cities Skylines 2: How to Make Hydroelectric Dams Work

Get energy from water with a Hydroelectric Dam in Cities Skylines 2!

Screenshot by GameSkinny

The Hydroelectric Dam is perhaps the most frustrating building to build because of the various factors that go into placing it properly. It doesn’t help the natural water levels on maps have a habit of being too low. So, here’s how to make Hydroelectric Dams work in Cities Skylines 2.

How to Make Hydroelectric Dams Work in Cities Skylines 2

If you aren’t playing with everything unlocked from the start, you’ll need to earn Milestones and use Development points in Electricity to unlock the Hydroelectric Power Plant (Dam). Once you do, you may have a hard time actually getting it to work properly, as I did. I’ve got a few tips to help you get it up and running.

The Common Issues with Hydroelectric Power Plants

There are a few general issues that pop up when you’re trying to place a Hydroelectric Power Plant in Cities: Skylines 2. The most common are:

  • The elevation is too low.
  • The building isn’t on the shoreline.
  • It’s in water.
  • The dam isn’t long enough (not enough distance).

The primary thing you need to take into consideration when building a dam is the possibility of flooding when placing your dam. This power station will raise the water level on the side the water flow comes from. This will cause water to leak around the edges of the dam eventually. I recommend either terraforming a path to lead the water to the dam or building cliffs along the edge of the river behind the dam.

Elevation Too Low

Screenshot by GameSkinny

Bot sides of the dam must be elevated quite a bit higher than the roadway bridges you’re able to build. While you can build a dam across a river without terraforming, it’s likely that you’ll run into flooding issues, and raising the terrain helps mitigate that.

Use the Shift Terrain tool to elevate the ground at least a couple of dozen meters high. Depending on the map and location you’ve chosen, you may have to do this on both sides of a river. However, I only had to do it on one side here since the terrain on the other side was already high enough.

Not on Shoreline and in Water

If you’re getting warning messages that the dam isn’t on the shoreline or is in the water, you’ll need to tweak the points where the dam connects to the land.

  • The starting side doesn’t need to be on the shoreline. It can be further inland.
  • The ending side needs to be near the shoreline but not in the water, so continue moving the end toward land until the message goes away.

Luckily, the higher elevation on the starting side helps with this issue, as well, since it puts distance between the starting side and the shoreline and water.

Not Enough Distance

Finally, you need to choose a wider river for your Hydroelectric Dam. The widest one I had access to was almost too short, and it’s about 375 meters across. But you can use the Terrain Tools to make a river wider if needed.

However, keep in mind that the flow might not be as efficient if you only widen it in one area; I’ve created a reservoir that acted more as a lake, slowing down the flow of water and lowering the electricity made by the down. Either pay attention to the energy production number that comes up when you’re placing the dam and how it changes as you move it or click the dam to see its energy output if you’ve widened the river after placing it.

Once you’ve addressed these issues, you should be able to place your dam. Then, build a road to one of its ends and connect it to your power grid with Power Lines. At that point, you should be getting energy from the dam properly.

And that covers how to make Hydroelectric Dams work in Cities Skylines 2. While it’s not easy to set it, it can be a nice alternative to Coal Power Plants. From here, check our CS2 guide hub for more topics like how to fix not enough labor or how to make districts.

About the author

Melissa Sarnowski

Melissa Sarnowski turned her hobbies of gaming and writing into a job through freelancing with the help of an English degree. If she isn't playing games and writing guides for them, she's spending time with her family or her dog.