Hydroelectricity is the electricity generated by hydroelectric power, the production of electrical power through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water. Hydroelectricity from water usually comes from larger dams on rivers and building turbines below the dam. Then water flows through the turbines, generating electricity. There are advantages and disadvantages with hydroelectric power plants.

Advantages of hydroelectric power

  • Once a dam is constructed, electricity can be produced at a constant rate.
  • If electricity is not needed, the sluice gates can be shut, stopping electricity generation. The water can be saved for use another time when electricity demand is high.
  • Dams are designed to last many decades and so can contribute to the generation of electricity for many years / decades.
  • The lake that forms behind the dam can be used for water sports and leisure / pleasure activities. Often large dams become tourist attractions in their own right.
  • The lake’s water can be used for irrigation purposes.
  • The build up of water in the lake means that energy can be stored until needed, when the water is released to produce electricity.
  • When in use, electricity produced by dam systems do not produce green house gases. They do not pollute the atmosphere.
  • Minimal environmental impact
  • Viable source–relatively useful levels of energy production
  • Hydropower is a fueled by water, so it’s a clean fuel source. Hydropower doesn’t pollute the air like power plants that burn fossil fuels, such as coal, oil or natural gas.
  • Hydropower is a domestic source of energy, produced locally near where it is needed.
  • Hydropower relies on the water cycle, which is driven by the sun, thus it’s a renewable power source so long as the rain keeps falling on the dam catchment area.
  • Hydropower is generally available as needed; engineers can control the flow of water through the turbines to produce electricity on demand.
  • Hydropower is not only a cleaner source of energy than oil but is it more cost effective as well. The most efficient coal burning plants are only able to convert around 50 percent of their energy into electricity, whereas modern day hydro power turbines convert up to 90 percent of their energy into electricity.
  • Hydropower can cost less than a penny per kWh (Kilowatt Hour) compared to fossil fuel power plants at around 2 to 3 cents per kWh. That may not seem like a big difference, but when factored out over a year and the millions of kW hours Americans burn, it adds up to a huge savings.
  • Hydropower plants provide benefits in addition to clean electricity. Hydro power plants create reservoirs that offer a variety of recreational opportunities, notably fishing, swimming, and boating. Most hydro power installations are required to provide some public access to the reservoir to allow the public to take advantage of these opportunities. Other benefits may include water supply and flood control.