In 2019 38% of total green energy was generated by hydroelectric power stations. Hydroelectricity is undoubtedly one of the most popular and widely-used forms of clean energy. Nonetheless, what do you know about the advantages and disadvantages of hydroelectric power? This article will help you to discover all benefits and implications of this source of energy production.
Cons (Disadvantages) of Hydropower
Although the generation of energy with the help of hydropower doesn’t emit a lot of GHGs, it demands the construction of huge dams. They block the rivers and sometimes may lead to different environmental disasters such as changing of the usual flow, sudden floods, and earthquakes. Unfortunately, there are even more dangerous drawbacks of hydropower.
Probably, the hazard of regional droughts is one of the key disadvantages of construction of hydroelectric power stations. What is more, the amount of produced electricity directly depends on water accessibility. That’s why the power stations may be not able to produce a lot of power during the dry spells.
2. Expensive Construction
The building of a new hydroelectric power plant requires a lot of material resources. It’s necessary to spend colossal sums of money to overcome such construction challenges as laying the underwater foundation or possible logistical problems. On the other hand, these plants don’t require a lot of workers, and their maintenance costs aren’t too high.
3. Environmental Impact
Usually, some fish species migrate when the mating season begins or when they need more food. The construction of dams may block their path and lead to fish death as well as the lack of breeding. Also, it may affect the whole local ecosystem and the environment changing the water level.
4. Emission of Dangerous Gases
The hydroelectric power reservoir can emit tons of dangerous gases such as methane. As a rule, the areas near a dam are covered with water and the plants below its surface start decaying. This process generates dangerous gases that increase air pollution.
Pros (Advantages) of Hydropower
As you can see, there are some cons of hydroelectric power, but still, it has much more benefits. And right now you’ll discover the major ones.
1. Renewable and Clear Energy
Hydroelectric power plants use only water to produce electricity. That’s why this source of energy is considered to be totally renewable. Due to the water circulation of our planet, we’ll be always able to use hydroelectric power.
In addition, this is one of the most popular alternative energy sources. It generates energy while emitting less GHGs than the power stations that use fossil fuels. Due to it, humanity can avoid such environmental problems as climate crisis and acid rains.
2. Cost-effective Energy
Although the construction of a new water power plant may come at a price, it’s one of the most cost-effective energy sources. While such fossil fuels as natural gas or coal may be influenced by market tone, the fluvial water is an unlimited resource that doesn’t depend on the economic conditions.
Besides, the usual operational lifetime of the modern hydroelectric power plants is near 100 years. That’s why it can be used even by future generations. And it’s possible to upgrade such plants with improved technologies without any difficulties. Plus, low maintenance and operating costs are definitely among the key advantages of hydroelectricity.
3. Support of Local Economy
A new hydroelectric power station will certainly enhance the economic growth of the area and encourage the development of regional infrastructure. Such improvements may enhance the life quality of the locals.
Moreover, the large constructions, such as Monticello Dam or Hoover Dam, attract crowds of tourists annually. Considering all these benefits of hydropower, the construction of a new power station can help to solve a lot of issues and provide remote communities with better living conditions.
4. Stability and Reliability
The power supply network should be able to deal with peak demands while keeping high voltage levels. Besides, it has to re-establish the supply as soon as possible in case of a blackout. Hydroelectric stations produce the energy that can be injected into the electricity system within the shortest possible time. It helps to maintain the balance between the power supply and its demand.
As you can see, there are many water flow pros and cons. Nonetheless, the development of new technologies and the improvements of the hydropower sector hold out hope that this source of energy will get rid of all its drawbacks. There is no question that such changes may significantly transform the current pros and cons of hydropower.
Right now, scientists and engineers are working on the improvement of a new fish transport system that will make the hydropower more eco-friendly. Due to it, soon there may appear more hydroelectric advantages promoting the whole hydropower industry.
Kate is an environmental consultant specializing on green technologies and nature preservation techniques. She has more than 3 years of experience and worked with several non-profit organizations to save our nature from disruptive influence of people.