The surface of the Earth is made up of approximately 70% water. Water is a very important element for the life of living beings and the functioning of the planet, without it we could not live. But, did you know that water can generate energy? Yes, we can generate energy from it and in a more beneficial way than you might think at first.
Hydraulic energy is one of the oldest energies and thanks to technology it has undergone great changes and advances over the years.
This energy is generated thanks to the movement of water that occurs in rivers and reservoirs . The water moves a turbine that generates electrical energy and this goes directly to the electrical network. There are two types of hydroelectric plants:
- Flowing water hydroelectric plants.
- Hydroelectric plants at the foot of the dam.
Is hydropower renewable or not?
YES, hydraulic energy is a renewable energy , this means that it is impossible for it to be exhausted since it is replenished with rain and thaw. Hydraulic energy is the most widely used throughout the world, although it is true that the development of solar energy and wind energy, little by little, are becoming sources of renewable energy of particular importance. Learn more about renewable energies: advantages and disadvantages here and in this other link learn about renewable and non-renewable energies: examples and summary .
Now that it is clear that hydropower is renewable , we will now discuss the advantages and disadvantages of hydropower and data globally.
The main advantages of hydropower will be developed below :
- Renewable energy: as we have already mentioned, it is an energy that can always be used, that is, it is inexhaustible. This is because the resource used to generate it, water, comes from rain and thaw when the warm season begins.
- Reusable: the same water that has been used to generate energy can be reused.
- Its production is flexible: depending on the energy demand that is needed, a greater or lesser quantity can be produced. Hydroelectric power plants are located under the reservoirs, which is where the water accumulates. By having the water stored in the reservoirs, it can be disposed of as needed.
- Stable: compared to solar or wind energy that depends on the climatic conditions that are occurring at the time, hydraulic energy is a more stable energy since it does not depend on whether it is raining or not, thanks to the water accumulated in the reservoirs .
- Economical: the cost to generate electricity from this energy is really low with a global average cost of 0.05 US / kWh  .
- Safe: this energy is largely respectful with the environment as it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and to obtain it, no waste is generated. Also bear in mind that the natural resource used, being inexhaustible, does not generate an impact on the environment.
Hydraulic energy, despite being renewable and having many advantages, also shows some disadvantages that do not make it possible to take full advantage of it. These are the main disadvantages of hydropower :
- Environmental impact: although it is a renewable energy and this helps it not be harmful to the environment, it really does have negative environmental consequences since large spaces are needed to build hydroelectric plants. The construction of these plants is detrimental to the ecosystems and the living beings that inhabit it, such as plants and animals. In addition, there is a deterioration in the physical-chemical quality of the water.
- Prolonged drought : we use water to generate this type of energy, although it is true that it is renewable and does not depend on daily rainfall, it could be affected in a prolonged drought. A drought would reduce the contributions of water to the reservoirs, with the consequence of not being able to be used for the generation of energy.
- Water priority: in some regions with a water deficit, they prioritize the use of water for livestock and agricultural activities and for supplying populations. Therefore, in regions with less accumulation of water in reservoirs, the use of water to generate energy does not develop or does not reach its maximum potential.
- Location of hydroelectric plants: they are usually in areas far from places of consumption, such as towns, that is why methods are necessary to carry energy from one place to another, resulting in the loss of energy and an impact on the environment environment.
Hydraulic power worldwide
Although it is true that hydraulic energy has some disadvantages, the advantages it presents are greater, that is why it is still used to generate electrical energy. Within renewable energies , at a global level, hydraulic energy is the one that generates the most electricity in the world with almost 67%. This energy is contributing to the fulfillment of the Paris Agreement, thus curbing the acceleration of climate change and contributing to sustainable development.