Hydropower Renewable Energy essay


Hydropoweris the electric power derived from moving water bodies such asrivers. The force produced by these moving water sources is used torun big turbines to produce electricity. Hydropower is one of therenewable sources in the world accounting for about 16% ofelectricity supply in the world (Mekonnen &amp Hoekstra, 2012). Theother renewable energy sources are wind energy, solar energy, nuclearenergy, biomass and geothermal energy. Renewable energy sources havemany advantages over the non-renewable sources due to theirbeneficial impacts on climate, economy, environment and health ofpeople (Dincer, 2013).

Eachof these renewable sources of energy have specific benefits and costimplications. The energy produced from hydropower is used for manyeconomic activities such as industrial uses, transportation,homestead lighting, mechanical uses, companies and other economicactivities (Twidell &amp Weir, 2015).Thepower generated can be used for both small scale uses like lightinghomesteads and large scale uses like industrial and mechanicaloperations. Since historical times hydropower has been harnessed frommoving waters for many purposes such as driving watermills, sawmills,and ore mills. Hydropower has been versatile and flexible since theseancient times. Hydropower has been shared both locally and regionallythrough regional cooperation and power sharing deals with neighboringcountries.

Hydropoweraccounts for about 20% major power stations in the world. There existfour major typologies of hydropower(Mekonnen, &amp Hoekstra, 2012).These include, run of river hydropower, storage hydropower, pumpedstorage and offshore hydropower. The run of river typology consistsof channels of moving water either from a river or canals that areused to run turbines. Such typologies have little or no storagefacilities and provide continuous power, also called base load, tothe national grid. Storage typology consists of large systems thatutilize dams and other reservoirs which release fast moving water torun turbines to generate energy. Such typology is strategic becauseit provides power according to the prevailing demands, also calledpeak flow demands. For instance, the storage can be opened up whenpower is needed and shut down when the projected power requirement islow.

Pumpedstorage typology consists of lower and upper pumps in reservoirs.Upper pumps provide surplus energy to run the system when demand islow. During high power demands, water is flowed back to lowerreservoir pumps to run turbines. Offshore hydropower typology usestidal currents and waves to generate electric power from sea waterbodies(Egré &amp Milewski, 2002).Governmentsshould take interest to provide clean power for running all therespective industries and institutions. There are three reasons whygovernments should build hydropower dams. Building hydropower damshas a good effect on energy demand, local environment and costs.

Demandfor clean energy

Energy demand is a contentious economic issueof discussion in many developing as well as developed countries.Energy requirements increase daily due to the ever increasingeconomic growth and expansion (Kaygusuz,2004). Many power demands arecoming up every day. Power is needed in industries, businesses,homesteads, transport projects, schools and transport systems. Allthese require sufficient electrical power to run effectively andefficiently. To cater for all these demands, both clean energy andreliable power supply is paramount.

Renewable energy

Demand for clean and renewable energy isincreasing in the world. One of the main reason for this is to avertthe adverse effects of climate change experienced over the years.Fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources have become athreat to our existence (Wolfram,Shelef &amp Gertler, 2012). Thetoxic gasses emitted by burning fossil fuels are interfering with thegreenhouse gases concentration, depleting the ozone layer whichenvelopes and protects the planet from the dangerous solar rays. Theattractiveness of harnessing renewable energy sources fromhydropower, wind, solar and biomass is important because of thepositive impact on our environment as well as meeting the requiredpower demands.

Demand for renewable energy sources alsorequires a sustainable approach (McNally, Magee &amp Wolf, 2009).Non renewable energy sources can never provide a sustainable energysource because depletion and exhaustion of fossils and crude oil ispossible. Renewable energy sources have become the key remedy tosustainability. Hydropower uses water to drive turbines which is thenreflowed to the rivers and lakes. This provides a continuous flow ofenergy as well as continuous flow of water for other uses such asirrigation. Long term energy provision and positive environmentalimpact is guaranteed.

Focus on hydropower energy is a remedy to theincreasing power demands in the country and the world. Tapping on thefree natural water bodies which have been untapped for long willincrease the power sustainability in the world. Unlike power and windpower sources which are always subject to seasonal changes,hydropower is adapted better to these climatic changes (McNally,Magee &amp Wolf, 2009). Power can be harnessed during winter seasonswhere tapping on solar energy is impossible.

Reliable power

The government needs to invest in hydropowerdams to get reliable power supply. Electricity demand is usually on a24/7 basis. Base load statistics show that electricity power is on a24-hour basis. A base load is a type of a power station whichnormally utilizes very minimum requirements in power generations andprovides electricity in a continuous flow. Thisis because homesteads need power for lighting, hot water systems,powering electronics, charging electric cars and other electronics,running garage doors and security systems. Industries requireelectricity for production purposes, security reasons andtransportation reasons. Traditionally, non-renewable energy sourceshave been the key linkage to the national grid. Renewable energysources such as hydropower can provide the additional power requiredto supplement these traditional sources(Jaramillo, Borja, &amp Huacuz, 2004).The issue of back up capacity and standalone systems can be managedby incorporating hydropower into the grid to prevent the poweroutages that can occur. The standalone systems are electricalsystems that are typically off- the grid directed in all locationslacking electricity distribution systems.

Hydroelectric power is a source of stable andreliable power. Reliability and operation of electricity productionsystems depends largely on rapidity and flexibility of powergeneration with respect to demand, system voltage maintenance andreestablishment of power outages (Jaramillo, Borja, &amp Huacuz,2004).Hydroelectric installations provide energy which can easily beinjected into the national power grids and act as faster and flexiblesources of power to meet prevailing consumer demands (Yuksel, 2010)

Hydroelectric power also has a predictablecapacity reestablishment with rapid and foreseeable maximumproduction from zero to maxima levels. According to Yuksel (2010),the predictability of power establishment is based on the fact thatthe capacity of water bodies is predictable in all seasons. Thisgives a clue on the expected power production capacity based onseasonal water capacity variations. Such predictability makeshydropower the best power source to mitigate power consumptionalterations as well as provision of ancillary electricity source tocomplement the other energy sources. Such mechanisms provide abalance between demand and supply of electricity in a country orregion

Hydropower is also reliable because it has thecapacity to cushion from daily and seasonal variations in peak energydemands (Kosnik, 2010).Irrigation demands for water can complicatesuch seasonal cushioning especially when both demands for irrigationwater and peak power demand occur at the same time. Storagehydropower can be adequately utilized to meet these demands. Run ofriver hydropower are usually smaller than storage systems but have akey role in adapting to the seasonal power demands through continuouspower production. Such small scale hydropower systems produce 10% ofworld’s power capacity (Kosnik, 2010).

Nevertheless, the reliability of the hydropoweris not without problems. Hydropower is only reliable if the watersources are reliable all year round without changes in volume. Thiscan be a problem in countries without major rivers and during adverseclimatic conditions such as droughts (Dincer, 2013). Levels of watergo down during these periods resulting in lower power generation.Hydropower should, therefore, be complemented by other energysources.

Benefits to the Environment

Hydropower has major benefits to theenvironment because it is a clean and renewable energy source. Thereare many international organizations that are ensure that theenvironment is safeguarded such as United Nations conferences, theKyoto protocol of 2003, the world conference on sustainabledevelopment of 2002 and the climate change conference of 2015according to Lannoye et al (2011). These conferences advocated forclean energy to protect the environment especially hydroelectricpower. In addition, they recommended that the countries affiliated tothe United Nations should take advantage of the hydropower generationto increase their countries energy requirements as well as preservethe environment from the carbon dioxide emissions produced by fossilfuels (Dincer, 2013). 170 countries reached this consensusunanimously. Governments should invest in hydropower due to thebenefits of this energy source to the environment such as provisionof clean energy.

Clean Power

Hydropower being a renewable energy source isderived from water without interfering with its quantity and quality.All hydropower stations whether small or large are in line with therenewable energy protocols. The electric power produced fromhydropower complements other renewable sources of electricity withoutany environmental degradation or interference (Egré &amp Milewski,2002). This is because this type of energy production typicallyproduces very little if any greenhouse gases that have minimumcontribution to pollution. Hydroelectric power is also flexible innature especially, the storage type which can be opened and closeddepending on the prevailing power requirements. According to Lannoyeet al. (2011), such stations offers flexibility in electricitytransmission based on demand and with minimal environmentalpollution. When closed, such water can be utilized in other economicactivities such as irrigation.

Safe for Environment

Hydropower is safer in the environment and ithas a role in managing climate change (Vicuna et al., 2008).Hydroelectric cycle produces very minimal greenhouse gases ascompared to the fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gases.Such low concentration of greenhouse gases reduces ozone depletionhence retarding global warming. According to Frey and Linke (2002),international bodies have emphasized the development of suchrenewable and clean energy sources. As a result, 33% of hydroelectricpower has been harnessed and has been used for economic growth todate.

However, muchwork and policy development need to be done to improve on productionof hydroelectric power, this energy resource has improvedenvironmental preservation with minimal greenhouse gases as comparedto the daily 4.4 million barrels of petroleum oil burnt in the world.Additionally, hydropower is a main source of drinking water for thenation. Hydropower stations collect all the rain water in theirreservoirs and this can be used for both commercial and domestic useslike drinking and irrigation (Twidell &amp Weir, 2015). Throughstorage, these reservoirs cushion water tables from exhaustion anddepletion as well as minimize effects of droughts and flooding whichare detrimental to the environment.

Lastly, hydroelectric power generation releasesminimal pollutants and by-products to the environment unlike fossilfuels. This reduces the likelihood of acidic rain and smog. It alsoimproves the air we breathe which has no or minimal toxic products.

Low Costs

The toxic substances produced as by-productscould result in adverse health problems such as respiratorydisorders, neurological problems, cardiovascular complications andeven cancer. Hydropower and other renewable energy sources havereduced both mortality rates and cost implications that result fromlost working days and healthcare expenses. National burden ofmanaging fossil fuel-related health conditions is around $360-890billion annually which accounts for 2-6% of the GDP (Dincer, 2013).

Hydropower is a low cost and flexible powersource. Water bodies are natural resources and unlike fossil fuelsand natural gases, they are not liable to market price fluctuations.It is also the sole source of energy with an effective cost-benefitratio flexibility and reliability in both power supply andcomplementation of other renewable sources such as wind and thermalpower stations (Balat, 2007).Hydropower stations have a lifespan of50-100 years and therefore, are long-term investments which cannotonly benefit the current generation but also other generations tocome. They are open to modifications and upgrades depending ontechnological advancements. They also have low operating andmaintenance costs.

Low Operating Costs

Hydropower plants attract low operating costsand therefore, governments should invest in them. Hydroelectricenergy requires natural water bodies such as rivers which are used togenerate electricity by spinning turbines which run generators. Thewater from these bodies can be stored in reservoirs and dams and usedaccording to power demands. The operating costs are immensely reducedsince minimal labor is required to monitor the whole productionprocess (Koch, 2001). Much of the power can be used at the point ofdemand especially the small scale stations and therefore, reduce thetransmission costs that could be incurred. Water being a freeresource too, reduces the operational costs since it is not liable tomarket fluctuations or pricing. However, the initial startup cost forsetting up a hydropower plant is usually high (Aggidis et al, 2010).Cost of purchasing the turbines, generators, building dams, andcreating transmission lines is usually very high.

Hydropower stations are economically viableprojects and are key tools for development(Bartle, 2002). They provideelectricity to all sectors of the economy such as highways,industries, commercial institutions, communities, schools andchurches at affordable prices. They increase access to government andsocial services, education and healthcare, therefore, improving thequality of life of the people at a minimal cost. Environmentalsensibility provided by clean hydroelectric energy saves the cost ofnegative impacts of climate change and environmental degradation seenin fossil fuels usage. Hydropower as a sustainable energy source,thus addresses the current needs of the people without going againstthe future prospects and generations.

Working Hours

Hydropower plants attract lower costs since theworking staff working hours are less. Hydropower plants personnelwork for fewer hours due to automation of many of these power plants.There are always fewer personnel on site to carryout regular controland inspection. The process of electricity generation is fullyautomated with production dependent on the energy requirements at thetime (Twidell &amp Weir, 2015).The few personnel and the lessworking hours translate into fewer operational and logistical costs.Much of the manpower is utilized in maintenance of transmission linesand transformers.


Hydropower is one of the widely used sources ofpower especially in the developing nations which have not adoptednuclear and other sources of power. Hydropower accounts for around16% of world’s power capacity. The main reason why the governmentprefers hydropower as a renewable source of energy is due to the everincreasing energy demands in the country, low costs of operations andsafety to environment. Hydroelectric power contributes a huge chunkof power to the grid which complements other sources of energy. It’sa clean energy source with minimal toxic emissions as well asenvironmentally friendly (Panwar, Kaushik &amp Kothari, 2011). Theoperational costs of hydroelectric power are minimal since fewerpersonnel are required and the fact that water is a free naturalresource.

The world overreliance on fossil fuels hasbrought many adverse effects to the environment. The global warmingmenace is one of the critical factors to consider. Combating climatechange and its effects requires a holistic approach involving allcountries in the world with strong advocacy of clean and renewableenergy. This will cut the concentration of greenhouse gases emittedinto the atmosphere especially the levels of carbon dioxide. It isthe responsibility of every nation and citizen to minimize the amountof carbon in the air so as to promote a better atmosphere and abetter world to live in.


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