Hydropower: Pros and Cons


Renewable energy is an ongoing goal of environmentalists. There are several options available to utilize our natural resources for energy. Electricity for daily use is taking a toll on the health of our environment. The equipment is causing pollution and leaving waste products behind. Hydropower is one of the renewable power sources used around the globe. This option helps to eliminate many environmental issues, yet also comes with a few disadvantages.

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Renewable and Healthy
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Hydropower uses water as the main driving force. The sheer power of water is used to turn the blades that activate the generator. The power comes from either flowing or falling water. This is a much healthier way to maintain a power source. Water is a natural resource that does not give off pollutants normally derived from power plants. The water is only used to turn blades. Therefore, the water is not used up in any way. Flowing water continues to power the generator consistently without waste.

Dams

Dams are one of the problems associated with hydropower. While hydropower operations can survive off of nature, it is not always controllable. The building of a dam allows for control over the speed and amount of water usage. In order to supply large amounts of electricity with hydropower, some rerouting of nature has to occur. Dams cause changes in the environment that can affect wildlife. They also pose a threat of dangerous flooding in the event of a malfunction. People tend to build homes and businesses where natural water sources used to be located. Dams often give a false sense of security to surrounding areas. The addition of a damn takes nature, somewhat, out of the hydropower alternative.

Cost

Hydropower is a costly expenditure. The main expense lies in the startup. The corresponding dams add substantially to the basic costs of power plant construction. Once the plant is up and running, however, costs decline. Hydropower plants are low maintenance, requiring few employees. Costs over years of productivity relate to safety repairs and updates.

Construction and Adjustments

Construction of any major plant involves heavy machinery. The majority of the pollution from a hydropower plant is generated during this time. Once the plant is in place, however, the pollution potential is halted. Homes and businesses are often moved to make way for these large projects. Sustainable power then comes at the cost of an uprooted community.

Power output can be changed to suit the needs of users. During low use times electricity water can be held back and less power produced. This adjustable advantage is a great conservation tool. Frequent breaks protect machinery, helping it to last longer. Outdated and worn out machinery is a major complication of traditional power plants. Longer lasting equipment reduces waste in the future.

Limited by Nature

Power plants are usually formed with a damn and a man-made lake. The production still relies on a natural water source for the majority of the water, however. Power may be limited in times of drought. A dried-up water source leaves no alternative for power production.  Natural disasters may also cause the plant to be shut down. Large storms, such as hurricanes, can add stress to the supporting structure of dams. Overflow of the dam may also be a complication when inclement weather arises.

Renewable energy offers a hopeful future for our planet. At present, pollution and waste are overpowering our environmental efforts. Hydropower and other alternative power sources aim to make electricity a more natural occurrence. Hydropower has some downfalls, yet lacks many dangers of other methods. Hydropower is gaining momentum across the globe.

About Eva Willis

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