Hydropower Dams: Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydropower Dams

Hydropower is the energy that is generated by water power. This is done by using the gravity and resistance of the waterfall. Hydropower is the most used form of renewable energy. A hydropower plant will produce energy without emitting greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels.  The potential of hydropower dams depends on the drop and the water flow available, the more fall and flow available, the more electricity is produced. There are many advantages and disadvantages of hydropower dams. Some of them are discussed below. You can also read my article on hydropower advantages and disadvantages here.

Advantages of Hydropower Dams

There are many famous hydropower dams in the world. These type of dams are built because of its unique advantages. The major advantages of hydropower dams are listed below.

  • Production costs are eliminated once the dam itself is constructed.
  • They have a higher economic lifetime.
  • Maintenance costs are very small since the equipment is automated and does not require a large staff for operation during power generation.
  • Hydropower dams do not burn fossil fuels and they do not directly emit greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is produced in the equipment manufacturing but these emissions are not even close to those emitted by non-renewable fuels.
  • Reservoirs or basins that are constructed for the production of hydropower are able to be used for other activities such as irrigation agriculture and water sports.
  • These dams have become tourist attractions and they also prevent flooding by storing the excess water collected.
  • The energy that is created is classified as clean and regenerative.

Disadvantages of Hydropower Dams

There are also some disadvantages of hydropower dams. Some of them are as follows.

  • With any dam, there is a great risk of a breach or a rupture and massive flooding and damage.
  • Terrorist’s threats and acts of sabotage may threaten the area around the dam.
  • An imbalance to the ecosystem and changes in landscape can occur and a reduction in the river flow over a long period. The river may become stagnant because the flow has lessened.
  • The thermal and chemical makeup of the reservoirs may change as water accumulates. Great accumulations can cause climate changes. Wildlife may be affected to an overgrown of plankton and algae causing atrophy accumulation.
  • The banks downstream from the dam could have massive erosion, causing an influx of sediment to settle into the river.
  • Underground structures such as natural or man-made caves and caverns may become unstable due to the massive pressure of the hydropower dam and the reservoir.

The use of hydropower dams is becoming a more popular alternative to non-renewable energy sources. The advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages of hydropower dams.

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