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!
How Does Hydroelectric Power Work?
Advantages of Hydroelectric Energy
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.
Generating electricity with hydro energy is not polluting itself. The only pollution occurs during the construction of these massive power plants.
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.
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.
Compared to among others fossil fuels and nuclear energy, hydroelectricity is much safer. There is no fuel involved (other than water that is).
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.
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.
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.
Looking for lists of pros and cons for more types of energy sources?
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Geothermal Energy Pros and Cons
Biomass Energy Pros and Cons
Author: Mathias Aarre Mæhlum
Last Update: 16 October 2012