For centuries, hydropower has been deemed as a feasible, dependable, and inexpensive source of energy. Currently, it is one of the most popular sources of renewable energy. In the United States, this form of energy constitutes 13% of the electric power.
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However, in the Latin America hydropower constitutes up to 70% of the electric power (Currie, 2011). Environmental experts argue that the world’s hydroelectric power ventures avoid the emissions of up to a billion tons of greenhouse gases yearly.
Despite its usefulness, critics argue that hydropower is not a true renewable source of energy and that its use results in numerous environmental issues.
As such, critics assert that in the future this form of hydropower would not be reliable and should be discarded for other sources of renewable energy. This article focuses on why I believe hydropower would not be feasible in the future.
In the recent past, the use of hydropower has attracted heated debates. More studies have revealed that development of hydropower projects has resulted in environmental issues.
The studies suggest that if hydropower is given more attention in the future, humans might not be ready to solve the social, economic, health, and environmental impacts of these projects (Førsund, 2007).
With an increase in the effects of global warming, hydropower has been unsustainable in nations where frequent droughts affect power production.
For instance, global warming effects have increased the frequency of droughts and reduced the volume of water in major rivers that run the hydropower plants.
Because of these, blackouts and interruptions in power have become common phenomena in the affected countries such as Ghana and India.
For a dam to be developed, a huge reservoir should be put in place. When these reservoirs are flooded, animals and people depending on the flooded land are displaced. Usually, when individuals are displaced from their lands social conflicts arise (Draper, 2003).
Studies have shown that most of those displaced are not willing to be relocated. For instance, the Three Gorges Dam project in Asia attracted many disagreements owing to the number of residents who were relocated to give room for the reservoir.
The international media estimated that up to 4 million residents were relocated (Currie, 2011).
Tester, Drake, Drscoll, Golay, & Peters (2012) found that the construction of new hydroelectric plants could also have a negative impact on the ecosystem. When a new dam is constructed, the migration of fishes is thwarted.
Similarly, the creation of dams can result in the depletion of oxygen in the river waters affecting on the aquatic life. For instance, the creation of dams across rivers in the Pacific Northwest in America has had a negative impact on salmon populations.
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Annually, millions of salmon migrate upstream to reproduce. However, with the creation of dams in their migratory paths their population has been lowered.
Recent studies have refuted the claims that hydropower is clean. These studies have indicated that the construction of dams results in the emissions of methane and carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere accelerating the effects of global warming.
Although these emissions cannot be compared with the emissions from the burning of fuels, their existence should be of concern to us. Experts assert that when plants in the reservoir are covered with water, their decomposition results in the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that hydropower should not be given much attention in the future. I believe that we should concentrate on other feasible and renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.
Currie, S. (2011). Hydropower. San Diego, CA: ReferencePoint Press.
Draper, A. S. (2003). Hydropower of the future: new ways of turning water into energy. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.
Førsund, F. R. (2007). Hydropower economics. New York: Springer.
Tester, J. W., Drake, E. M., Drscoll, M. J., Golay, M. W., & Peters, W. A. (2012). Sustainable Energy: Choosing among Options (2 ed.). Massachusetts : MIT Press.