Renewable Energy Sources – Hydroelectric

Renewable Energy Sources – Hydroelectric

One of our sometimes overlooked renewable energy sources is hydroelectric or the use of water to produce electricity. The basic concept of hydroelectric energy can best be describe as using water flow to turn a turbine, and this turning action produces electricity. It is a little more complex than that but it simply can be put as the energy   global water crisis    of flowing water converting to mechanical energy, mechanical energy to electrical energy. Here are some interesting facts about this renewable energy source.

About 20% of the world’s electricity is produced by hydroelectric- One interesting fact that I found is that only 20% of the world’s total electricity is produced by hydroelectric generation, which accounts for 88% of all renewable sources. Leading the way today are coal, nuclear, and natural gas power plants.

Advantages- The one major factor for using water as an energy source is economics. There is no fuel cost associated with this type of power plant, which is a major advantage over the others. As continued fuel cost rise, hydroelectric operation cost are minimal. The life of a hydroelectric power plant is still to be determined since many plants are 100 years old and still operating. Most modern-day plants are almost totally automated requiring less personal to maintain them. A couple other advantages are no CO2 emissions, because there is no burning of fuels, and they become great recreational areas for boaters and families.

Disadvantages- It has been proven that dams cause both downstream and upstream ecosystem changes caused by water flow. The damage can be extensive depending on the size and flow of the power plant system. The generation process does change downstream river beds and have been known to cause flooding and destruction of land. Extensive studies are ongoing for better design and less ecosystem effect downstream. Flow of water shortage can occur when power demand is high and the river drops to levels were generation must cease. This is one area that is also being studied along with better damn design.

Compared to other renewable energy sources- If you were to compare hydroelectric power generation to wind energy generation, you will find that the use of water is much more predictable than the use of wind farms. It is easier to regulate the power distribution based on rain fall and the availability of water.

 

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