As the world looks for more renewable energy, scientists have turned towards natural kinetic energy: rivers. In the world there are two types of freshwater hydroelectricity: Hydroelectric dams and Run of the River hydroelectricity. Both have the capacity to power towns, villages, and even cities. But questions still arise about how we can harness this energy with minimal environmental impact.
Advantages of Hydroelectricity: Hydroelectricity does not release any carbon emissions during the production of energy. Hydroelectricity is often very cheap and rates are only 3 cents per kW/hr. The use of dams also creates reservoirs which can serve as recreation. Hydroelectric dams are one of the most efficient and productive renewable energy sources!
Problems with Hydroelectricity: Hydroelectric dams cause many problems in rivers as they disrupt the normal flow of the river. Hydroelectric dams block migrating fish from moving up the rivers. Thus, if the rivers are block the fish from returning up river during the mating season, fish populations rapidly decrease. Dams also cause flooding in many areas since water is prevented from its natural flow. For example, the Three Gorges Dam (the largest hydroelectric dam in the world) in China flooded in 1954 killing 33,000 people and caused the relocation of 18 million more. Hydroelectric Dams also lead to sedimentation and erosion of nearby lands.
All in all, hydroelectricity is definitely a source of energy to be continued and evolved into the future!
By Brendan Mulry