Hydraulic power: advantages and disadvantages

The renewable energy each day play an important role in electricity generation. Within these energies, we find hydraulic energy , which is obtained from taking advantage of the kinetic and potential energies of the water current or of the large natural waterfalls. Today we will talk in depth about this renewable energy, what it is, how it is generated and its main advantages and disadvantages.

Hydraulic power advantagesDisadvantages hydraulic power
-It is a renewable energy, therefore it is inexhaustible.
-It is a clean energy, it does not pollute, it does not produce gases or toxic emissions.
-It is a safe energy, the only fuel used is water.
-It is flexible.
-Generate jobs.
-The reservoirs control the river and this helps to reduce the risks in case of floods.
-Hydraulic dams need a place with the appropriate flow and height conditions.
-Alters the life of river fish.
-A large space is needed for the construction of the dams and the hydroelectric power station.
-They depend on climatic changes.
-Environmental effects, causes changes in flora and fauna.
-Very expensive investments and constructions.

What is hydraulic energy?

The hydraulic energy is the energy you get from the river water . It is a renewable energy source and it accounts for about 7% of the world’s primary energy consumption.

Hydraulic energy is obtained from the use of resources provided by nature such as a natural waterfall, gorge or through the construction of dams. It is considered one of the forms of energy that has been used throughout the history of humanity and at different scales, since it can be transformed into other forms of useful energy.

The largest number of hydraulic dams are destined to the production of electrical energy through the use of hydraulic turbines. Countries that have great hydraulic potential and have rivers with large flows and abundant water obtain most of their electricity from hydroelectric plants . Water is the only renewable resource that is storable, so it is very practical to immediately meet demand. As drawbacks, difficulties can be generated in the reliable predictions of river flows, since they are subject to the variability of meteorological cycles and this is difficult to control.

In general, hydraulic sites are located far from large towns and this makes it necessary to transport the electrical energy produced through expensive transmission networks. Another disadvantage of this type of energy is the negative effect that the creation of a reservoir can have on the environment, causing problems of alteration of channels, erosion, incidents on populations, loss of fertile soils, among others.

These disadvantages , plus the costly investments that are needed in this type of power plant, and in turn the task of locating sites that is increasingly difficult, are what prevent a greater use of this renewable energy source. However, hydraulic energy continues to be the most used among renewable energy sources for the generation of electricity. Clear examples of power plants are: The Itaipú dam, in Brazil, located on the Paraná River with 14,000 MW of power in continuous operation and that supplies about 15% of the energy in Brazil and 95% of Paraguay, and the the Three Gorges, in China, with 18,000 MW installed.

How is hydroelectric energy generated?

The hydraulic energy is obtained in the hydro , which dammed river water in dams and then this is released in a controlled manner, causing the movement of a turbine and thus producing electricity. Certain dams work with the entire flow of the river and others divert part of its flow.

The logic of these locations is to be able to take advantage of the gravitational potential energy that is generated with the water or the intensity of its current, to achieve in this way, make it move a hydraulic turbine permanently and producing a rotational movement that is transferred to an electricity generator . Then this electrical energy can be transmitted through the network to homes and businesses that require it.

Advantages of hydropower

Among the main advantages of hydraulic energy we can find:

-They are one of the types of renewable energy , therefore this implies that it is inexhaustible, although we may be left without the appropriate places to build this type of necessary power plants.

-It is a clean energy , that is, it does not pollute, it does not produce gases or toxic emissions. Take care of the environment.

-It is a safe energy , since the only fuel that is used in the production of electrical energy is water.

-It is flexible, since electricity can be generated depending on demand and this is thanks to the fact that the water in the dams can be regulated, producing more or less according to the needs of each moment. By adjusting the water flow it can be adapted to the electrical demand.

– It generates jobs , currently renewable energies generate more than ten million jobs.

-It is one of the most used renewable energies in the world.

-Many times it is used to supplement the necessary electricity provided by other energy sources.

-The reservoirs allow to control the river and this helps to reduce the risks in case of floods.

-It is not subject to changes in the prices of non-renewable energy.

-The reservoirs and swamps that are created to store water also allow other uses, such as supplying water in necessary cases or different aquatic activities.

-It is possible to generate hydraulic energy in remote places where there is a river with a flow that has enough power.

Disadvantages of hydropower

Among the main disadvantages of this type of energy we can find:

-Hydraulic dams cannot be built anywhere, it must be a place with the appropriate flow and height conditions.

-Alters the life of river fish.

-It needs a large space for the construction of the dams and the hydroelectric power station.

-If there is a drought, the productivity of a hydroelectric plant may be affected. This implies that they depend to a certain extent on climatic changes.

-Environmental effects, this implies that it generates consequences in the environment since it influences the course of a river and floods an area of ​​land, and this causes changes in flora and fauna.

-The investments and construction of the power plants are very expensive.

Importance of hydropower

This type of energy is key in the development of different sustainable forms and ecologies to be able to satisfy the demand for energy that exists in the world.

The burning of fossil fuels that is used in non-renewable energies is very polluting and generates certain dangers.

Hydropower and other forms of renewable electricity are increasingly seen as a much-needed option in the future world.

Examples of hydropower

Some examples of the use of this type of energy are:

– Hydraulic mills : They are pushed along a river bed and serve to rotate a piston and a millstone in it, with which grains, seeds, wheat, etc. are ground or crushed.

-Hydroelectric plants : among the best known we can find the Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Plant, in Venezuela, also known as Represa del Guri, which takes advantage of the flow of the Caroni River, a tributary of the Orinoco, to produce about 10,235 MW of electricity that they supply the whole country.

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