Hydroelectric power is a form of sustainable green energy. While in the movie Monsters Inc, the city of Monstropolis uses children’s screams to generate electricity, hydroelectric power on the other hand takes advantage of the hydrologic cycle of water to supply electricity to households. The enhancements that man has made to use the process of water cycle were a success. However, it is not enough to know that it was a successful endeavour. Let us take a look into the process, the advantages and disadvantages of hydroelectric energy.
The water cycle in itself is an important process. This cycle involves evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection. Evaporation happens when the sun heats up bodies of water and eventually turns it into water vapor. After water becomes vapor, it proceeds to the second phase which is condensation where it turns back into liquid because of the low temperature. As a result, clouds are formed. The third phase of precipitation happens when enough water has condensed and this can be observed when the clouds are already dark. When the clouds can no longer hold the water, it falls on the ground in the form of rain. The collection phase happens in the bodies of water and the cycles starts over again.
Now, this process is being utilized in order to have hydroelectric energy. Just like beavers who build dams to have deep still water which protects them from predators, man has made their own version of such which is designed to collect and impound the water from precipitation. The water dam has the following additional parts: intake, turbine, generator and an outflow area. From the reservoir the water goes through the intake which is secured by a control gate in order to regulate the volume of water that will flow through the penstock. The penstock is the fixture that allows the water to flow through. The turbine can be found in the penstock so that it turns when the water flows. The turbine is connected to the generator and it produces the current which is transformed into the electricity supplied to homes. After going through the penstock, the water goes to the outflow area.
The water reservoir is known to have the potential energy and when it goes through the penstock it is converted to kinetic energy because it is now in motion. The amount of electricity produced is dependent on two main factors; these are water volume and hydraulic head amount. The hydraulic head is the distance between the water surface and turbines; it is also dependent on the amount of water on the volume of water in the reservoir. There is a direct relationship between the factors and the generated electricity. It states that as the hydraulic head and the water volume increases, so does the electricity generated.
In talking about the sustainability of the hydroelectric power, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is the consistency of the output. Since the water cycle is a natural phenomenon that happens almost daily, reservoirs are easily and continuously filled with the needed volume of water for generation of electricity. This covers the peak in demands for electricity, giving another advantage. Hydroelectric dams provide the convenience of easily responding to fluctuating demands by opening or closing the control gates on command.
Another advantage has a direct impact on the countries’ economies. This is related to costs incurred by such energy harnessing. There is an elimination of fuel costs since it does not involve the use of fossil fuel such as coal, oil and natural gas. Thus, there is no need for fuel importation. Countries also save on the costs of labor, for it usually needs only a few people to operate the whole facility. When it comes to the idea of sustainable energy, low costs are important. There is no green gas emission or any other pollution produced in harnessing hydroelectric energy. This is another benefit presented by this renewable energy. This is also related to the fact that it is a source of energy is non-obtrusive.
The reservoir in the hydroelectric facility is also offering other uses. This facilitates tourism where the young and old visit to have a view and learn the benefits of using the hydroelectric green energy. There are also those hydroelectric dams which offer water sport facilities, increasing tourism in the area. Others also promote aquaculture. Some have other uses other than generating electricity. Some of these are for agricultural irrigation as well as flood prevention.
On the other side of the bridge are disadvantages. One of the shortcomings is that the initial costs of building the hydroelectric power plant are high. However, multi-use dams share costs with the agricultural and flood prevention departments of the government. In relation to building dams, another drawback of it is the difficulty of finding the right location. Wildlife habitat, fish passage and displacement of local communities may be compromised in building such a power plant. A few groups of people have been proactively promoting dam removals in order to give into healthy rives and riverside communities to be restored.
Another difficulty is the freezing of pipes in places with colder climates. This makes it hard for the easing of the whole process. The cold climate also causes problems with moving parts in the facility. This increases the rate of the wearing out of such parts. Although such wear and tear happens in both temperate and cold-climate countries.
Hydroelectric power fits the category of green energy as defined. Green energy is energy which can be generated, extracted and used without producing pollution. The good thing about this is it takes the natural process of the water cycle which is why hydroelectric energy is renewable. It goes as no surprise that many countries use it. Hydroelectric power plants contribute 20% of the electricity world-wide. This is how water’s potential energy, converted to kinetic energy that results in electricity is being utilized by many. Though it presents drawbacks, it is outweighed by the advantages presented by the hydroelectric energy. For beavers, a dam protects them from predators while for man it provides many uses. Water can be compared to the screams that are harnessed to power the city of Monstropolis. Hydroelectric power is a great factor that sustains daily activities in the lives of people.