12 Principal Pros and Cons of Hydroelectric Energy

Hydroelectric energy generates of power from streaming or falling water, with the help of dams constructed on rivers. Basically, it works by using the constant flow of water to move and rotate turbines, which then use such a kinetic energy to cause the magnets inside a generator to also rotate to generate electricity, with the used water exiting the turbines and being returned to the stream below the dam. It is believed that moving water is therefore a powerful energy source that can light up towns, cities and even countries.

Though this method of power generation is making headlines lately because of the much potential it is showing to companies wanting to offer alternative and sustainable sources of energy, it has also been under a lot of criticisms from other people. With this mind, there are certain perks and drawbacks that you want to look into before employing it. Take a look into the following list of pros and cons so that you will be able to have a better opinion of what is being discussed in debates all over the world with regards to hydroelectric power.

List of Pros of Hydroelectric Energy

1. It is a clean energy source.
As expected, like other newer methods of power production, hydroelectric energy is one of the cleanest alternative energy sources out there. As you can see, creating electricity from flowing water does not contaminate itself and the energy that it produces does not create any greenhouse or toxic gases that can pollute the atmosphere. The only contamination that would occur is when the plants are being constructed.

2. It is renewable.
In essence, this type of energy is renewable, as it uses the planet’s water to produce electricity. In a natural process, water evaporates from the surface of the Earth with the heat of the sun to form clouds, which will then fall back on to the Earth in the form of rain, snow or hail, which means that water will not be used up and we do not have to worry about it becoming scarce or more expensive. In addition, there is just a few suitable repositories where hydroelectric plants could be constructed and even fewer regions where such projects are beneficial.

3. It has low operating cost.
Operating and maintaining hydroelectric energy plants only requires low costs, as there will just be a few replacements for them. Truth is, dams are being constructed with long-term vision, which means that they will be able to produce electricity for many years to come.

4. It is stable and reliable.
Hydroelectric energy is regarded as being exceptionally dependable, as they have no issues regarding the electrical power its plants is producing, unless there is required an alternate source. Now, you can see countries having huge assets of hydropower as base for energy source.

5. It is safer than other energy sources.
It has been observed that hydroelectric energy is one of the safest sources of power, as compared with other methods, such as nuclear energy and fossil fuel. As mentioned, there are no other types of fuel included here other than water itself.

6. It offers opportunities for recreation and tourism.
Lakes that had formed behind dams have been used for recreational purposes, such as boating, fishing and swimming. These waters have helped some regions to become hot spots for tourist attractions.

7. It accommodates demand matching.
As implied above, transforming water streams and getting power from it is a process that is relatively simple. Though it is deemed as a huge project, this type of power generation is not difficult to get going, where areas with low power usage has seen water steam lowered with back-up energy stored for future needs.

List of Cons of Hydroelectric Energy

1. It is expensive to build.
Energy plants are incredibly expensive to construct, and a hydroelectric energy plant is no exception. However, this type of power plant does not require a great deal of specialism with normally low support expenses, so it will be worth the investment considering the return of investment.

2. It can cause environmental damage.
One damaging natural result of hydropower is identified with damming, altered water flow and the development of power lines and streets for its access. Hydroelectric energy plants would also influence fish and their natural behavior, and in fact, more hydropower investments have been identified with the abuse of fish species, which is an area that a number of proponents have strong feelings about. They argue that emptying would be totally decimating to the fish and getting rid of some of the water could even harm them, reasoning that water might not be deep enough for them to reproduce and survive. In simple terms, fish species can be very negatively affected by the environmental changes dams bring about, especially when hydroelectric companies are not careful of what they are doing.

3. It can lead to drought.
Another big issue that comes with hydroelectric energy is the occurrence of drought. While the cost of energy is specifically identified with the amount of water that is accessible, a dry spell is expected to influence this aspect and would lead to people not getting the power that they need.

4. It can cause insufficient supply of water.
Enormous dams that are constructed across a river in one region can greatly alter the river flow in another region, which can result in serious tension between the neighboring areas.

5. It can cause floods to low-lying regions.
Neighborhoods, especially in low-lying areas, are often in the danger of being flooded, as they might get swept away when dams release water in full force. Aside from this, these communities would be forced to move out so these dams’ construction can continue.

Indeed, while hydroelectric energy is seen as very helpful, there are also doubts about its use. By weighing the pros and cons listed above, what do you think? Is it a sustainable solution for the future or should we rather stick to the traditional means of producing energy or use other renewable alternatives?

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.