The main advantage of hydraulic energy is that it is a renewable source of energy. It uses water to generate electric power. It harnesses the potential energy of water at a certain height to power hydraulic turbines and produce electricity.
Generally the facilities in charge of hydroelectric production are hydroelectric plants. In this case, we are talking about hydroelectric power.
The main drawback of this type of energy production is in the damage suffered by ecosystems. These facilities are usually located in swamps or places where it is easy to accumulate large amounts of water. In them, dams are built that affect the normal course of the water.
Below we present the main pros and cons of hydroelectric energy.
Advantages of hydraulic energy
The main advantages of hydroelectric energy are as follows
1.- Hydroelectric energy is renewable
Due to the water cycle, the availability of water to generate electricity is almost inexhaustible. For this reason, hydropower is a renewable energy source with high energy efficiency. It is an alternative for fossil fuels and nuclear.
2.- It is a clean energy
3.- It allows to regulate production according to demand
For the operation of hydroelectric plants, the construction of reservoirs for hydroelectric power to store water is required. The construction of reservoirs allows to manage electricity production according to demand. Storing water in a reservoir is the equivalent of batteries in photovoltaic solar energy.
4.- Facilitates flow management
The construction of reservoirs allows the management of the river flow. Often the effect of the rapid flooding of the flow in rainy seasons.
5.- Economic advantages
A major advantage of hydropower facilities is the independence of fossil fuel price volatility. It is immune to rising or falling prices of oil, coal, or natural gas. Furthermore, it is not necessary to extract the fuel or transport it to the power plant, which represents significant economic savings.
Hydro plants also tend to have longer economic lives than power plants that use fuels. Operating costs are low because plants are automated and need few people for normal operation.
6.- It is allowed to store energy using Pumped-storage
This method stores energy in the form of the gravitational potential energy of water. The water is pumped from a lower elevation reservoir to a higher elevation.
Disadvantages of hydroelectricity
This type of energy also has certain drawbacks that should be analyzed.
1.- It involves the construction of hydroelectric dams and reservoirs
The main drawback of hydropower is that the construction of a hydroelectric power plant involves the construction of large reservoirs.
These reservoirs, depending on where they are built, can flood significant tracts of land. Flooding involves loss of fertile land and property, and environmental and ecosystem damage. Entire villages have been flooded.
2.- It has some environmental impacts
The construction of a hydroelectric power station has some effects on the ecosystem. They depend on the characteristics of the place. Developing hydroelectric facilities is often linked to water quality degradation.
A major drawback is that dams and reservoirs can be destructive to aquatic ecosystems. Especially for aquatic species that need to migrate to reproduce.
3.- Affects the downstream flow
Downstream water flow regulation also has certain disadvantages. This feature changes the ecosystems in the downstream river. The water leaving the turbines has practically no sediment. This can result in erosion of river banks or the withdrawal of deltas at the mouth of certain rivers.
When the turbines are repeatedly opened and closed, the river flow can be drastically altered causing an alteration in ecosystems.