Hydropower refers to the power that can be generated in the form of electrical or mechanical power by utilizing energy head associated with flowing or still water. Be it large structures producing electricity, or be it small water mills for grinding, they are all form/expamples of hydropower plants. In short, hydropower is the power latent in water. Though its a clean energy and is renewable, it do have its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the pros and cons of hydropower are listed below:
Pros of Hydropower
- It is renewable source of energy. They are there as long as rivers and water bodies are there.
- It is environment friendly and clean in nature. They don’t pollute the environment as fossil fuels do. Also, they don’t leave any wastes or residues.
- It has low operation and maintenance cost. Hydropower structures do have long life and once built, need less repairment or replacement of parts.
- It easily address the power demand. Unlike other source of energy, it can quickly adjust to the varying demand and produce power as per requirement. At low demand time, water can be reserved for later use.
- Impoundments done for generating hydroelectricity can also be used for irrigation and recreational purposes like fishing, boating, etc.
- They have high efficiency of more than 90%. This is more than that of any other source of energy.
Cons of Hydropower
- It has long gestation period i.e. take years for construction.
- It is capital intensive i.e. need huge amount of money to build it.
- It can impact the environment by causing submergence of large area under it disturbing ecological balance. Fish and aquatic animals will be hindered from freely moving upstream and downstream of the river where dam is located (which can be avoided by applying fish ladder).
- They can’t produce energy at the time of drought and hence their capacity may go underutilized.
- High risk is associated with hydropower as huge construction work has to be done with precised accuracy.