Hydroelectric power is electricity which is generated by hydropower. Hydropower is basically harnessed through the gravitational force of flowing or falling water. On the globe-level standpoint, it is the most widely used form of green and renewable energy, which supplies 2998 TWh of hydroelectricity in the 2006 and even more these days. Hydroelectric power has been at play for centuries by humans. The electricity is particularly created when the water is passed over large mechanical turbines, the water pressure is important to create pressure on the turbines, forcing them to turn. As a result, the mechanical energy created is therefore turned into electricity.
The Statistics of Hydroelectric Power
20% of the earth’s electricity consumption in 2006 was produced with hydro power, which means generating electricity from hydropower. This is still quite surprising reminiscent of the fact that hydropower can be great renewable and green source of energy in the future. However, that figure actually was representative of the most used renewable energy source in the world. We are all aware of the fact that hydroelectricity is both green and renewable, yet what are the other advantage which this technology offers? Are there any disadvantages it brings? If you are at all interested, read on the find out the pros and cons surrounding the use of hydroelectric power listed below. Before you proceed, you need to know that this article merely deals with the pros and cons of hydroelectricity. If you do not know how hydroelectricity works yet, we suggest you to read through the details pertinent to how hydroelectric power works.
The Advantages of Hydroelectric Energy
Just as biomass and wind energy, hydroelectric energy is renewable and ecofriendly. This means that we will not run out of it. But, there is only a limited number of suitable reservoirs where hydroelectric power plants can be constructed and even less areas where such projects are profitable. In addition, generating electricity using hydro energy is not polluting itself. The only pollution which occurs during the building of these massive power plants is not significantly detrimental.
The other benefit grapples with the fact that hydroelectricity is so reliable. Hydroelectricity has been found to be very reliable sort of energy. There are very little, if any, fluctuations in terms of the electric energy which is produced by the power plants, unless different output is expected in the near future. Countries with massive amount of resources for hydropower use hydroelectricity as the base load of energy source, which means that they can save a lot in the long term. So long as there is water in the magazines electricity can be generated. The fact that adjusting the flow of water and output of electricity is effortless, hydropower is found to be flexible. At times where the power consumption is at its lowest point, the flow of water is decreased and the magazine levels are being conserved for many times just as the power consumption is high. The last yet not the least positive effect of using hydropower is that it is safe. Compared to the other source of energy, such as fuel and nuclear energy, hydroelectricity is way safer. There is no fuel which is involved, other than the water that is used.
The Shortcomings of Hydroelectric Energy We Should be Aware of
Now, let us have a look at how hydroelectric energy can cause reverse impact to human’s life. This ranges from environmental aspects to economic ones. These adverse impacts are apparently varied across different parts of the globe.
To start with, let us see how hydroelectric energy will create environmental consequences. The environmental effects of hydropower are pertinent to the interventions in nature because of the damming of water, converted water flow, and the construction of power lines and roads. Hydroelectric power plants may impact fish, which is a complex interaction between copious physical and biological aspects. More user interests are related to the exploitation of some fish species, which is important to help that it is a field which many have sound opinions on. The habitats of fish are shaped by the physical factors such as water velocity, water level, and shelter opportunities and the access to food. Draining would be entirely devastating to the fish. Beyond this point, the amount of water may have different consequences on the fish in rivers, which depends on the kind and stage of the lifecycle. Not all unregulated systems at rivers are maximum in terms of fish production, due to the large fluctuations in flow.
Well, next let us see the economic value of hydropower. Surprisingly, most people see that it may be costly. Building power plants in general is indeed costly. Hydroelectric power plants are not the exception to this. On the other hand, these plants do not need a lot of workers and the maintenance costs are generally low. Just like all other power plants, hydroelectric power plants are so costly to construct. What makes it even more expensive is that it require high standard of construction. The high expense indicates that plants have to operate for a long period of time to get profitable. The creation of dams create flooding of land as well, meaning that natural environment and the natural habitat of animals, and even humans, may be destroyed as the adverse impact of hydroelectricity power plant. The building of dams can cause lots of water access issues. The creation of dams for hydroelectric may mean that rivers do not have the control of water flow.
The reliability of hydropower should not be underrated, typically when dealing with droughts. Electricity generation and the prices of energy are directly linked to how much water is present. A drought can potentially affect this of course. The fact that there may be limited reservoirs is just as problematic as possible droughts. We have already started using up appropriate reservoirs for hydroelectric power plants. There are presently about thirty major power plants which are expected to produce more than 2,000 MW under construction. Only one of the projects was begun in the last couple of years.