hydropower i

By Kristine Kuriger,
Brian Nguyen, and
John Chaplick
Topics to Discuss
Hydropower Support
General Opinions on Hydropower
Hydropower Development
Environmental Issues of Hydropower
Social/Political Issues on Hydropower
Is hydropower TRULY sustainable?
Laws Regarding Hydropower
Supporting Hydropower
25% of Earth’s energy (10% US)
Hoover Dam
4 billion kWhr a year
1.3 million people
90% efficiency in modern systems
est. 67 million homes can be powered via
waves, tides, currents
2025: 13,000 MW power
.1% of its energy = 35% Fla.
electrical needs
PA: job prospects 3X higher
Voith Hydro: power to 100,000 + homes;
2021: 18.5% energy will be HYDRO
Public Viewpoint: Divided
Duncan Graham-Rowe
Hydropower isn’t “clean”
➢ 3 ½ times CO2 emissions as oil
➢ Plant decay
“How much will this cost?!” “Who cares about hydro”
❖Power transfer needed, but at what cost?
❖US: no heavy research into its usefulness; WHAT IS IT?
“Keep our ecosystems natural!”
❖Too risky for organismal/ human ecosystems
Can Production be enhanced in areas where
hydropower is already developed?
•Yes, by upgrading and increasing the
efficiencies and capacities of existing
•The Water Power Program supports the
hydropower industry and complements
existing investment through the
development of new technologies and key
•There’s already three of the Water Power
Program’s hydropower efficiency projects
sponsored through the American
Recovery which resulting in an increase of
more than 3,000 MWhr per year.
Developed Hydropower Area
•Cushman Dam in Washington:
–Installed two Francis turbine/generator units which add approximately 3.6
megawatts of annual electrical generation.
•Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Project, Colorado:
–Installed a new turbine/generator unit which resulted in a 30% increase in
generations and an 18-48% increase in turbine efficiency.
•Abiquiu Hydroelectric Facility, New Mexico:
-Installed a low flow turbine which boosts an overall output from 13.8 megawatts
to 16.8 megawatts
Environmental Impacts
While hydroelectric power is considered one of the safe, clean green sources
of renewable energy, it does have its environmental impacts. The main
issue involves how the actual physical environment has changed. This isn’t
an issue so much for the wave farm and small run-of-the-river types of
hydroelectric power, but more for the large dam and turbine types. While all
types of hydroelectric power have problems, such as wildlife getting caught
in the turbines, the biggest issue is the reservoir that is created in front
of the large dam types power stations. These large lake sized reservoirs
instantly swallow up and change the environment.
Environmental Impacts (CONT.)
The problems that arise from this are as follows
• fish caught on the shallow end of the power station have little or no habitat left
• plant life on the shallow end die due to loss of water (this can also produce green house gases in certain tropical
• the habitat of fish on the lake side changes, and interrupts migratory patterns
• being that the water is deeper and more stagnant than before, it becomes more nutrient rich and can sustain large
blooms of algae that can deoxygenate the water and kill other plants and animals
• the algae has to be either regularly harvested, or certain species of fish must be introduced that eat the
• these must be introduced carefully as to not change the existing food chain distribution.
• In areas where the land is flat, a dam generator uses and incredible amount of land space
• For example in brazil the Balbina hydroelectric plant flooded 2360 square kilometers, with a electricity
yield of 250 MW or 2000 square acres per MW
• Compared to smaller run-of-the-river plants built where there is depth to the water, such as a valley, can
create 1 MW for only every 2.5 or so acres depending on size. This is a great difference
Social and Political Issues
The social and political problems with
hydro power are much less easy to
distinguish. One problem is a holdover from the environmental problems,
the creation of the large reservoirs.
While this may not seem to be a
political or social problem it is. These
reservoirs, especially the large ones
like China’s Three Gorges dam, cover
huge amounts of previously unflooded land.
Social and Political Issues cont’
Funding is the other
huge part of the
political and social
Hydroelectric power
plants are extremely
expensive to build,
and take a very long
time to construct.
Is Hydropower Truly Sustainable?
•Hydro plants were built to last for 100 years but because of the environmental factors, many
dams useful working lifetime is shorter
–Things like:
>Filling of reservoirs with sediments, evaporation, and less water availability from
snowpack due to climate change.
•For example, the Hoover Dam has reduced power production by 23% since it came into
operation, and in 2010 was at the lowest levels it has been since the 1930’s when it was
–Water levels in the lake will conceivably be low enough by 2025 to require operators to shut
off power production that 29 million people depends on.
•Large Dams are Unsustainable
Laws and Regulations of
Development of Hydropower
•Before adding a new hydropower in an area, they must face a
comprehensive regulatory approval process.
–Things like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions, federal and
state resource agencies, local governments, tribes, NGOs, and the
–This system protects the important environmental values.
•The downside of this process is that it’s very inefficient and
unnecessarily slow for the deployment of the hydropower and can be
delay (much needed up to 2-3 years) for environmental enhancements
and benefits.
To Conclude:
❖ Hydropower has tremendous potential in being a top electrical producer worldwide,
BUT it seems as if the world is split between wanting to explore our options and
keeping things as they are
❖ While hydroelectric power isn’t a concern for greenhouse gases, as is usual, it is an
enormous impact on the environment and must be monitored and planned carefully.
❖ Hydropower can be enhanced by upgrading and increasing the efficiencies and
capacities of existing facilities.
❖ Large dams are Unsustainable, because of environmental factors such as infillings
of reservoirs with sediments, evaporations, etc.
❖ Before adding any new hydropower in an area, they must go through a
comprehensive regulations.
Sources Used

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