Hydroelectric Power Pros and Cons

Hydroelectric power simply means generation of power from falling or streaming water. To produce power, dams are constructed on rivers. The constant running flow of water is then used to move the turbines. The rotating turbines then use the kinetic energy of moving water which in turn causes the magnets inside the generator to rotate and generate electricity. The water then exits the turbine and is returned to the stream below the dam. Moving water is therefore powerful source of energy that can lighten cities, towns and even countries.

Although producing of energy through hydropower does not emit any greenhouse gases but building of huge dams on the rivers and blocking them can have serious environmental and social effects in the form of altering the normal flow of river, blocking of migratory fish passage, sudden occurrence of floods, increase in number of earthquakes and displacing of local communities.

Hydroelectric power has been in the headlines lately, because a lot of companies are starting to see the potential that comes with the use of water to make power. That being said, there are some pros and cons that you want to consider when you’re looking at hydroelectric power and how it can impact the world. In this article, we’re going to explore both the pros and the cons so you can have a better idea of what is being discussed in regards to hydroelectric power.


Pros of Hydroelectric Power

1. Renewable: Hydroelectric energy is renewable. It is considered as renewable because it uses the earth’s water to produce electricity. The sun shines and the water evaporates from the earth’s surface, forms clouds and then falls back on to the earth in the form of rain and snow. This implies that we can’t use it up and we don’t have to worry about it becoming more expensive because of scarcity. On the other hand, there are just a few suitable repositories where hydroelectric power plants could be built and fewer places where such undertakings are beneficial.

2. Clean Energy Source: As you may expect, hydroelectric power is one of the “green” and “clean” alternative energy sources that are out there. Creating power with hydroelectric energy is not contaminating itself. The energy produced by hydroelectric plants do not produce any toxic or greenhouse gases that pollutes the atmosphere. The main contamination happens when the power plants are being built.

3. Reliable and Stable: Hydroelectric power is exceptionally dependable energy. There are next to no issues as far as the electric power that is constantly by the plants, unless an alternate source is required. Nations that have huge assets of hydropower use hydroelectric power as a base energy source.

4. Low Operating Cost: Hydroelectric power plants have low operating and maintenance cost and require few replacements as there are few parts in it. These dams are built with long term vision and are therefore capable of producing electricity for many years.

5. Demand Matching: As we talked about above, altering water streams and getting power from the water is simple. Hydroelectric power is not that difficult to get going. In areas where power utilization is low, the water steam is lowered and the backup energy is stored until it is needed.

6. Recreational Opportunities: The lake that form behind the dam can be used for recreational opportunities, offering activities such as fishing, boating and swimming. The lake’s water can also be used for irrigation purposes. Apart from this, large dams become hot spot for tourist attractions.

7. Safer: Last but not least, hydroelectric power is one of the safest types of power that is out there. Contrasted with other fossil powers and nuclear energy, hydroelectric power is much safer. There is no fuel included (other than water that is).


Cons of Hydroelectric Power

1. Environmental Damage: The natural results of hydropower are identified with intercessions in nature because of damming of water, altered water flow, and the development of streets and power lines. Hydroelectric power plants may influence fish and the way that they move and migrate, but this is a complicated process to research and it is hard to make a determination based on that one factor. More client investments identified with abuse of fish species, which means that this is a field that a number of people have strong feelings about.

Fish environments are put together and developed by a number of physical elements, for example, water level, water speed, safe spots, and whether or not there is a good food supply. Emptying would be totally decimating to the fish. On top of that, it can even harm the fish if you get rid of some of the water, because it may not be deep enough for them to thrive or reproduce in. In short, fish can be very negatively affected by these changes in their environment if the companies are not careful about what they are doing.

2. Expensive to Build: Power plants can be incredibly expensive to build, no matter what type you may be building. Hydroelectric power plants are not a special case to this. Then again, these plants don’t oblige a great deal of specialists and support expenses are normally low, so it may be worth the investment because you will get your money back after awhile.

3. Drought: One of the biggest issues that can happen with hydroelectric power is a drought. Power and energy costs are specifically identified with the amount of water that is accessible. A dry spell could conceivably influence this and make it so people cannot get the power that they need.

4. May Lead to Floods in Low-lying Areas: People living along low lying areas are often in the danger of floods as they areas might get swept away when water is released in full force from the dam. Apart from this, these people are forcibly moved out so that construction of these dams can continue.

5. Low Water Supply: Large dams built across a river in one country can alter the flow of river that may be flowing to another country. This can result in serious tension between neighboring countries.

Image credit:
Marco Fieber , Markus Krispler


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.