Hydropower as an Alternative Energy Source
Water provides a very valuable resource. We use dams built to run water through turbines and produce electricity. There are many advantages and disadvantages to hydropower, though there are more advantages. It is reasonable inexpensive to maintain, and is a clean source. There are issues with dams blocking fish swimming in the river, but there are ways to help them. Hydropower is well balanced between the electricity needs and the needs of the environment.
Hydropower makes up 90 percent of the United States’ energy from a renewable source. It is the nation’s largest renewable resource. People have built dams since ancient times to control the water. Waterwheels have been used for centuries to help people with their everyday needs, and now they can be used to produce electricity. Many large dams worldwide have turbines (modern day waterwheels), which produce large amounts of energy. These dams account for 40 percent of all energy produced by hydropower (Nersesian, 290).
When a dam is built a reservoir collects behind it, which also collects rainwater. The reservoir allows us to control the amount of water that flows through the dam and lets us still have a steady flow of water, even during years with less rainfall. The dam itself has spillways to control the amount of water leaving the dam. One major problem with dams is the affect they have on migrating fish traveling up and down the rivers. Many dams have special fish ladders to allow the fish to pass through (Today, 2001).
Of course the biggest advantage of hydropower is that it is renewable. Also it is clean, meaning it does not throw a lot of chemicals into the air and it does not produce any waste. Hydropower can also be produced internally (in the United States). This is a huge advantage, because it means that hydropower is safe from rising costs of fuel and energy in today’s world market. Another advantage is that, because dams can control the
amount of water flowing through, we can control the amount of energy being produced at one time. We can supply energy according to the demand. Most hydropower projects have other advantages about them, too. For example, dams produce energy, but their primary use is in controlling the river and preventing floods. Hydropower is also reasonable inexpensive. The actually building of a dam is expensive, but once it’s built, it can stand for centuries and is fairly simple and inexpensive to maintain (Short Course, 2004).
One big disadvantage of hydropower is that it relies on the water supply being available, so if...