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Hydroelectric Energy Pros and Cons

20% of the worldโ€™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 donโ€™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, thereโ€™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).

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.

Comments - 75

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February 20, 2014 5:22 pm Reply

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March 14, 2012 10:01 pm Reply

Yet Another Student of Mr Malvik's

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May 16, 2012 5:56 pm Reply

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February 20, 2014 5:19 pm Reply

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March 6, 2013 1:51 am Reply

David Guster

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!

April 16, 2013 2:39 pm Reply

Mathias

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!

April 18, 2013 12:03 am Reply

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April 18, 2013 2:30 pm Reply

KM

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?

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ak

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June 29, 2015 11:47 pm Reply

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