What would the world’s economy be like if we pulled our electricity out of energy resources that are renewable? We wouldn’t have any more shock from fuel price increases. We wouldn’t have to worry about foreign control over our fuel. And the climate change worries would be gone.
We would simply have abundance of affordable and clean electricity. Seems like a dream doesn’t it? Well prior to WWII, Americans were living that way. How? Simple: hydro power.
During the Great Depression, there were large public works projects where fleets of gigantic facilities were built on the biggest waterways in this country. Not only did they supply electricity, but they created jobs and inexpensively supplied power to the Southern rural areas while helping the West to become industrialized.
But when the war was over, the atomic age started and the growth of hydro power growth slowed down. Some say that hydro power wasn’t able to expand any more.
Today, everyone is looking for different ways to create energy for our cars, our homes, and more. One energy source that is overlooked by many that has ample amounts available is hydropower. Just like wind power, it doesn’t need fossil fuels to create electricity nor does it create any emissions. Resources like coal, electricity, gas, and oil do create emissions and thus create pollution.
Hydro power’s environmental impact is related closely to effects on nature with damming and/or lowering of water level. It can also change the water flow and has an effect on power line and road construction. There are many factors involved with hydro power’s environmental impact.
The damming done to supply hydro power in large areas can decrease public access, thus affecting outdoor activities. The climate is also affected by damming because of the increase in carbon that is released by plants and trees. When there is too much water in the reservoirs, it releases carbon which causes the plants and trees to rot from lack of oxygen.
Hydro power can affect the natural course of how water runs, such as when a river power plant doesn’t have water reservoirs, the water flow level changes which can create erosion. The power lines that run the power created by hydro process are foreign to nature, such as birds, and they can destruct the natural landscape as well. Birds often collide with the power lines, killing the birds. The underground cables that transmit the power affect hydrology and vegetation too.
Other creatures of nature such as fish that live in the natural environment rely on the level and speed of water naturally is affected by hydro power plants. Their natural habitat and source of food is affected, leaving them without when the water is drained. Some of the river systems where hydro power plants are built are good as fishing rivers however.