Hydroelectric Energy Pros and Cons


20% of the world’s electricity consumption in 2006 was generated with hydroelectricity (generating electricity from hydropower), the most used renewable energy source in the world. We all know that hydroelectricity is both renewable and green, but what are the other advantages this technology offer? Are there any disadvantages? Read the hydroelectric energy pros and cons list below to find out!

This article is solely about the pros and cons of hydroelectricity. If you don’t know how hydroelectricity works yet I suggest you first read through
How Does Hydroelectric Power Work?


Advantages of Hydroelectric Energy

1. Renewable

Hydroelectric energy is renewable. This means that we cannot use up. However, there’s only a limited number of suitable reservoirs where hydroelectric power plants can be built and even less places where such projects are profitable.


2. Green

Generating electricity with hydro energy is not polluting itself. The only pollution occurs during the construction of these massive power plants.


3. Reliable

Hydroelectricity is very reliable energy. There are very little fluctuations in terms of the electric power that is being by the plants, unless a different output is desired. Countries that have large resources of hydropower use hydroelectricity as a base load energy source. As long as there is water in the magazines electricity can be generated.


4. Flexible

As previously mentioned, adjusting water flow and output of electricity is easy. At times where power consumption is low, water flow is reduced and the magazine levels are being conserved for times when the power consumption is high.


5. Safe

Compared to among others fossil fuels and nuclear energy, hydroelectricity is much safer. There is no fuel involved (other than water that is).

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Disadvantages of Hydroelectric Energy

1. Environmental Consequences

The environmental consequences of hydropower are related to interventions in nature due to damming of water, changed water flow and the construction of roads and power lines.

Hydroelectric power plants may affect fish is a complex interaction between numerous physical and biological factors. More user interests related to exploitation of fish species, which helps that this is a field that many have strong opinions on.

Fish habitats are shaped by physical factors such as water level, water velocity and shelter opportunities and access to food. Draining would be completely devastating to the fish. Beyond this, the amount of water may have different effects on the fish in a river, depending on the type and stage of the lifecycle. Not all unregulated river systems are optimal in terms of fish production, because of large fluctuations in flow.


2. Expensive

Building power plants in general is expensive. Hydroelectric power plants are not an exception to this. On the other hand, these plants do not require a lot of workers and maintenance costs are usually low.


3. Droughts

Electricity generation and energy prices are directly related to how much water is available. A drought could potentially affect this.


4. Limited Reservoirs

We have already started using up suitable reservoirs for hydroelectric power plants. There are currently about 30 major power plants that are expected to generate more than 2.000 MW under construction. Only one of these projects was started in the last two years.


Last Update: 16 October 2012


  1. Another Student of Mr. Malvik's says

    Yes, this is the very best site to get pros and cons for hydroeletric energy……….Well this got awkward…..

  2. sean reeve says

    i am doing a project in science and we have to use hydroelectric power to power a town i hope it works!

    • vanessa folgoas says

      This is an amazing website especialy for kids. If they have to do a project it is perfect. I am a kid and i think it helped a lot because i don’t always enjoy copying down a bunch of word and they had the main word in bold and the meaning under witch i really liked. You should continue with this website because it is great. This is coming from a kid so thats good news since I am young and I have good feedback/comments thats really really great amazing fantastic news i defiantly rate it an 11 out of a 10 and what do you know i am 11 years old two thank if you read this comment I appreciate it.

  3. hope elizabeth cooke ( a student ) says

    Dude the picture is awsome . I love learning about hydroelectric . This helps because now I’m doing a paper!!!

  4. Joe (Student) says

    Not a student of Mr. Malvik’s , but this site is really helping me get my 700 word APA essay typed. Thank you for the infromation Mathias!

  5. Katelynne says

    This is helping me with my school research report on Renewable Energy Sources, it’s really useful!

  6. David Guster says

    I think there is a typo at the top because it say that hydroelectric energy is renewable, which means we can use it up, but the paragraph says we can’t use it up. Other than that everything was great, and thanks for the info!

    • Mathias says

      Sorry for the confusion. What I meant is this: Hydroelectricity is a source of renewable energy, which means that the resources replenishes themselves naturally. Although we might build out all the resources that are economically feasible, we will never run out of the water (the potential energy keeps coming back with the rain cycle).

      Hope this helps!

  7. KM says

    What about social consequences? For example, 3,500 Mayas lost their lands when the Chixoy Dam was built. Removing people from lands have inhabited for thousands of years will certainly have profound cultural impacts. Shouldn’t that be listed under the cons?

  8. EngineeringStudent says

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  9. says

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  10. emmi wilson says

    Wow! the pros and cons are very clear! thank you so much, this really helped doing my research πŸ™‚

  11. Susan Michael says

    Where are your citations or references for your points? Its hard to judge their credibility without knowing where your points are coming from.

  12. Mr. Frizzle VI says

    This article is somewhat misleading in that it only discusses hydroelectric dams while claiming to discuss all hydro power.

  13. WhisperAdaway says

    I absolutely loved this website. it helped me so much with my project of learning for my end of the year grade. thank you so much!!

  14. Olivia Wheadon says

    This website is great! I am doing a paper on Hydroelectric Energy and this definitely helped! I often find myself coming to it and it is always very helpful! Thank you!

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