Is Hydropower Good For the Environment?
Hydropower has many advantages for society, including the ability to meet electricity demands without impacting the environment. Some issues remain unresolved. Here’s a short overview of the impacts of hydropower on the environment. The IPCC says global temperature will rise five degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Hydropower dams also emit greenhouse gases, affecting water supplies. In response, governments have signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement, pledging to keep global average temperature well below 2degC.
Hydropower’s environmental impacts
Hydropower development projects are an integral part of the nation’s energy mix. However, the project also poses a threat to the environment by disrupting ecosystems that provide crucial services to humans. Hydropower projects often destroy valuable vegetative communities and lead to habitat destruction. Additionally, hydropower projects can cause increased sedimentation which will negatively affect the environment. The IPCC report states that hydropower plants change the hydrological regime, which will change the ecology of the area.
Hydropower’s climate change impacts
The climate change will have a significant impact on hydropower generation and human populations. It will increase the frequency and severity of droughts, and alter water supply. This will have major consequences for hydropower generation, which is responsible for 70 percent of all global installed power capacity. Furthermore, hydropower will increase the resilience of the basin to climate change, as the water stored in regulated reservoirs will act as a storage buffer. Hydropower projects are essential to combat climate change and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Costs of hydropower
The cost of removing dams is much higher than that of hydro power generation. This cost should be included into the total cost of any hydro development. Most dams wouldn’t get built if this cost was included. A study on the Belo Monte megadam was funded by the Sao Paulo Research Foundation. The study showed that hydropower dams can damage local water quality and biodiversity hotspots.
Assessments of environmental impact
Performing preliminary environmental impact assessments for hydropower development can guide the decision-making process. J Environ Manage describes a systematic, evidence-based approach that may help determine the feasibility and viability of hydropower projects. The challenges faced by developing countries, which have more stringent regulations, can be greater than those in developed countries. Implementation of EIAs involves achieving consensus among stakeholders. Here are some key steps.
Alternatives to Hydropower
Pollution is one the greatest environmental problems facing hydropower. Environmental degradation is caused by unsustainable agricultural practices, inorganic fertiliser use, and over-harvesting forests. In addition, hydropower is highly susceptible to sedimentation and aquatic weed infestation. These problems have led to the development of alternative sources of energy. These newer technologies can address these issues. Alternatives to hydropower have been gaining popularity as a greener option for energy generation.