Why is Hydropower Not the Solution to the Current Energy Crisis?
No doubt, hydropower results in clean and efficient energy compared to natural gas and oil. However, its impacts are complex. Hydropower electricity is a continuously evolving science, so it may not be perfect.
Let’s learn about some of its drawbacks:
Disturbs Natural Topography
When it comes to building a hydropower station, construction is undertaken at a grand scale. The numerous stages involve:
- Changing the natural river pathway.
- Removing wetlands that have taken decades to settle.
The blocking disturbs the natural flow of the routes. It also disturbs the fisheries and their migration patterns.
Since the migration patterns need realigning, it impacts the breeding process too. Fishes take longer than expected to get used to the new breeding grounds post-construction.
This is one of the reasons why the fish population reduces drastically immediately after the location is prepared for a hydro station. The dam may become a tourist spot which can result in littering or overfishing.
Most hydropower stations are built on a canyon with cliffs on the sides and a river in the center. The construction blasts the cliffs with drill vibrations that disturb their natural composition. Also, some explosions may hurt animals living in the surrounding areas by falling debris.
Even when the hydropower station has been built, the upstream river pool can result in flooding and habitat destruction. It can uproot scenic views and sometimes flood the surrounding areas when the dam overflows. This can cause the surrounding settlements to relocate.
As we know, hydropower uses the force of water to spin the turbines that produce electricity without harming the atmosphere. However, recent studies have shown that may not be the case. The dams created are contributing to the greenhouse effect without us even knowing.
When a reservoir is built, the remaining cliff debris, marine life, and plants are trapped. They cannot uproot from the forceful natural currents.
Consequently, marine life and plants begin to rot under the weight of the collected water. The decaying process releases gas such as methane and carbon dioxide into the air. Thus, contributing to the greenhouse effect.
How Can We Make Hydropower Friendly?
Foremost, the utility bidder needs to reconsider the locations of these dams. Researchers can create basins rather than halting the river flow. This will protect the fishes and marine life and significantly eliminate erosion and blasting of the surrounding cliffs for construction. Similarly, the fish can swim freely in the pool, and plants can flow down the river streams without decaying.
In instances where hydropower dams have become less operative, they can be replaced with free-flowing river streams. The natural organisms and food chains return to its natural space where it once was.
Protecting the environment and habitat restoration can help us fight climate change, and counter increased weather temperatures worldwide.
With extensive research, more information comes to light. We need to learn how man made contributions to the natural landscape have led numerous organisms to extinction. Saving today will result in a better tomorrow for future generations.