To make a positive impact on our changing climate, we need to embrace renewable energy sources and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal. There are various renewable energy sources available to us, but by far, the most popular is hydroelectricity.
Hydroelectricity is energy created by channelling the power of moving water. When water flows downward, its increased levels of potential energy can be captured by a turbine and stored as electricity. But what are the real benefits of hydropower?
It’s a Clean Energy Source
Once a hydro plant has been built, generating hydroelectricity does not release carbon emissions. Water is renewable unlike most carbon-based energy sources, meaning it can be relied on indefinitely. Burning fossil fuels releases pollutants into the air, and so shifting to hydroelectricity can also result in improved air quality in polluted areas around the globe.
It’s A Reliable Energy Source
The water cycle is a cheap and reliable energy source, as water can be reused while fossil fuels cannot. Hydro plants can convert up to 90 percent of the energy in water into usable electricity.
During power outages, hydroelectricity plants can quickly redistribute energy as needed. Meanwhile, if the power goes out in fossil-fuel dependent areas, it’s challenging to produce additional natural gas or coal.
It Makes Economic Sense
The prices of fossil fuels are unstable, and can quickly rise or drop in a matter of hours. Since river water is a domestic resource, it is not affected by market fluctuations. This ensures the price and cost of a hydro plant remain stable.
Each province or state can produce as much energy as they need from hydroelectric plants, reducing their reliance on international gas or oil. They can also use hydro dams to store water in case of emergencies.
It Boosts Recreation and Tourism
Tourists flock to dams in droves: this results in increased tourism exposure and sales for businesses near hydro plants. For example, Lake Mead, a lake created by the Hoover Dam, attracted close to 7.5 million people in 2018 alone.
Lakes, rivers, and reservoirs are essential recreational spots for the public. Here, people may fish, swim, boat, and sightseeing. Water in these reservoirs and lakes can also be used for irrigation purposes.
It Contributes to Development
Creating a dam requires a lot of equipment and labour, typically in rural areas. This leads to an increase in development: highways, electricity, industry, and even new communities can spring up because of a major dam being built nearby. This all has an optimistic effect on the economy of small towns and rural communities.
It’s Proven Successful
If you’re searching for a hydro success story, look no further than British Columbia. World-renowned for its excellent hydroelectricity generation systems, BC’s first hydropower plant was created near Victoria in 1898.
Before using hydroelectricity, most of BC’s energy came from fossil fuels. Now, hydroelectricity plays a significant role in the British Columbian energy sector: power generated from these stations serves 1.6 million customers across the province, and the entire distribution system spans over 73,000 kilometers. Hydro tourism sites have been created to boost recreation across the province, such as in Revelstoke and Campbell River, all while providing low-cost energy.
Hydroelectricity is a reliable and efficient energy source that reduces carbon emissions, boosts tourism, inspires community development, and creates economic and recreational opportunity. British Columbia is a fantastic example of this. Organizations, countries, and corporations worldwide should strongly consider switching to hydroelectricity, as it not only has a positive impact on our climate, but can benefit our society as a whole.