Is Hydropower Renewable?

Is Hydropower Renewable?

Hydropower is a renewable energy source that harnesses the natural movement of water to create electricity. It is the largest and oldest source of renewable energy and accounts for about 31.5% of the total renewable electricity generation in the US, which is about 6.3% of the total electricity generation.

In the process of energy production, the flow of water turns the turbine, which then generates the electricity, thanks to the electric generator that’s usually hooked up. It is renewable energy because water is freely available and in plenty, unlike other sources of energy, there will always be enough water to generate electricity. 

Advantages Of Hydropower: Renewable Energy

The economic benefits of hydropower are more than the generation of electricity. It offers irrigation support, clean drinking water, and flood control. Is hydropower renewable? Because of its green energy capabilities, more are looking to identify the major advantages of constructing hydropower plants.

The greatest benefit of hydropower, however, is the fact that it provides abundant low-cost energy that contributes to electric power grids. The power plants burn fuel and they operate at low costs, lowering the overall cost of power production. It is also immune to rising fossil fuel prices

renewable hydropower energy

Other benefits include:

Hydropower is Inexpensive 

Initially, the costs associated with the production of hydropower are enormous, but in the long run, hydropower is quite inexpensive. Once the infrastructure has been designed and constructed, it requires very little maintenance compared to other forms of energy.

However, this is about to get even better, as there are currently plenty of technological improvements being made in terms of this energy source to make it even better.

It Is Produced Locally

Hydropower, unlike other sources of energy such as solar panels and fossil fuels, is produced locally in the US. This is a great advantage as it not only creates jobs for the locals, but it also ensures that the US does not rely on importing energy.

It Helps With Irrigation

Irrigation requires a lot of power, which can be quite expensive. Hydroelectric power offers an excellent and cheaper alternative that can be used to grow crops. This is actually a great setup for drought-prone areas, as reservoirs can be used to ensure a reliable supply of power all year round.

It is Renewable and Clean

Unlike the traditional fossil fuel sources of energy, using hydropower to produce electricity does not release any pollutants in the air or dirty water. 

Of course, there are some environmental considerations that come with large hydropower plants such as reservoirs or dams. However, after they become operational, they do not require you to burn any fossil fuels to produce electricity.

You can Use It Together With Other Energy Sources

A majority of hydropower plants are storage facilities that store large volumes of water in reservoirs, and they will mostly contain water stored to pull and generate the power.

The reliance on stored water by hydropower plants means that this technology is reliable and can provide a stable source of energy, plus it can be paired with solar and wind. 

Solar energy and wind power for instance rely on the natural availability of the sun and wind, and just like any other energy storage system, there are times of low wind. When it’s night, the sun does not shine, which limits production.

Hydropower will provide electricity even when wind and solar cannot, making it more practical and economical as a source of electricity.

advantages of renewable hydropower

Disadvantages of Hydropower Construction

Is hydropower renewable? The answer is an unequivocal yes. However, there are downsides to hydropower construction, many of which can be circumvented with proper construction and maintenance oversight. 

The Power Plants are Affected By The Environment

Hydropower is a renewable source of energy but there are usually environmental impacts associated with building power plants. Most important of all is the pumped storage of hydropower which can affect the natural flow of the river system. It’s 

The effect can disrupt animal migration and bring up issues of water quality for wildlife and humanity. 

This negativity will impact the hydropower and typically lower the run-of-river or tidal power setups. Additionally, the current hydropower system and pumped-up storage can block the river flow as well. 

Hydropower Construction Is Very Expensive

Most hydropower plants are large projects that involve the construction of a reservoir, power-generating turbines, and building a dam.

These require significant monetary investments. The large hydropower facility will however be able to provide low-cost electric power for at least 50-100 years after construction and the upfront costs will more than pay up in the end.

When you combine this with the fact that suitable places for constructing the reservoirs are becoming rare, it means that the construction costs will rise even further in the future. 

Hydropower Relies Largely On Local Hydrology

Hydropower being a reliable energy source is ultimately controlled by precipitation trends and the weather. 

However, most of the hydropower energy relies heavily on river water, and this means that droughts will cause an impact on the overall electric production, which can impact the capacity of hydroelectricity.

The amount of water available to produce hydroelectric will vary depending on the weather conditions, and therefore electric production is unreliable.

is hydropower renewable

Hydropower Construction Experts: Gracon LLC

At Gracon LLC, we offer a wide range of construction and development services for hydroelectric plants, which includes the following services:

Headquartered in Lafayette, Colorado, and founded in 1981 by a group of experienced construction specialists, Gracon LLC, is a multi-disciplined world-class design-build and construction services firm for a variety of markets. Contact us today for more information on hydropower construction and maintenance needs.