Hydropower or hydroelectricity is basically a term used to describe the way we harness useful energy (electricity) from running water. Hydropower is one of the pillars of renewable energy sources today and our society is totally reliant on this technology. Some countries such as Norway, generate almost all of their electricity using hydropower, in fact as much as 99%. There are both advantages and disadvantages of using hydropower:
Hydropower is a form of green energy. The only pollution that occurs for harnessing this type of energy comes from the initial construction of the hydroelectricity power plants.
As with many other renewable energy sources, hydropower is also renewable. This means that while fossil fuels and similar more conventional energy sources have limited reservoirs, the renewables reservoirs are practically infinite.
Hydroelectricity is reliable. Unlike other renewables such as wind power and solar energy, hydropower is stable; there are very little fluctuations in electricity generation. This is why hydroelectricity is very often used as a base load energy source.
Unfortunately, hydropower also has certain disadvantages. First of all, and in my opinion most important, are the environmental impacts of building these power plants: Regulating otherwise natural rivers and streams of water can potentially alter nature and wildlife including fish in the area.
Initial investments are expensive. It often takes many years before electricity sales reach the initial investments costs and the plants make a profit.
Limited reservoirs. It’s true that hydropower is a form of geothermal energy. On the other hand, we can’t build these massive power plants anywhere. The places where construction is economically realizable are few.
The bottom line is that hydropower is one of our most important renewable energy sources. In fact, it provides about 16% of our total electricity consumption worldwide and will continue to do in the future.
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