Hydroelectric power is one of the oldest forms of electricity generation dating back to hundreds of years where it was used to power domestic power lifts, sawmills, and to perform mechanical tasks like grinding grains. However, the use of hydroelectric power has evolved over time and it is currently the biggest source of renewable electricity. It also contributes to about one-fifth of the entire world’s electricity. The consumption and demand for hydroelectric power are continuously on the rise as it’s a clean fuel source and also one of the cheapest forms of energy today. Apart from generating electricity, hydropower can be used for agricultural activities, industrial uses in hushing, and powering water clocks. Here is how hydroelectric power benefits society, nations, and the world at large:
#1 – Economic source of energy
One of the most pivotal hydroelectric power benefits is the relatively low cost of extracting electricity. For many investors, the upfront cost of constructing and installing hydropower plants can be very high. The prices include not only the plant cost but also the cost of building a dam. But once the power plant is in place, the cost of operation and maintenance is meager. As a result, the marginal cost per kilowatt of electricity will reduce significantly. Also, since water is used in electricity generation, it is not required to be purified like fossil fuel. The source of hydroelectric power will remain perpetually and have an insanely long lifespan.
#2 – Renewable and clean resource
Since water is the primary source of hydroelectricity, the resource can be used until the end of time. A notable benefit of hydroelectric power is its ability not to consume water, as water powering the turbine ends up in the water stream again. They only derive the energy from moving water and convert it to electricity.
#3 – Eco-friendly
A recent report from the World Energy Council reported that hydroelectric power accounted for about 1,064 GW of installed capacity in the year 2016. To put that in context, each KWh takes about 0.36 kilograms of coal to generate. Thereby, hydroelectric power is an eco-friendly option compared to coal and fossil fuel, which accounts for a major chunk of the total emissions. Also, using hydroelectric power mitigates the emissions of greenhouse gases that are equivalent to the combustion of 4.4 million barrels of petroleum each day. Additionally, hydropower production doesn’t have any toxic byproducts that would harm the environment.
#4 – Flexibility
An interesting hydroelectric power benefit is its ability to scale the supply of electricity as per the need. When the demand for electricity is low, excess energy can be used to pump water to an upper reservoir. Conversely, when the demand for electricity surges, the stored water is released to power the turbines. The drawback of other forms of energy such as wind or solar is that they can only be used when there is sufficient wind flow or sunlight; whereas, water is constantly available. Additionally, at the time of blackout or peak demand, hydroelectricity can be flawlessly fed into the main electric grid system compared to other energy sources.
#5 – Picks up water shortage slack
Hydropower has various other uses apart from electricity generation. The collected water can be easily used for irrigation, drinking water purposes, or rainwater harvesting. Storing water in such a way also assists in the reduction of vulnerability during droughts and floods. Additionally, impoundment hydropower can create a reservoir for recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, and boating.
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