Environmental Impact of Hydroelectricity

Positive Environmental Impact of Hydroelectricity:

1.  Hydroelectric power is considered a very clean source of renewable energy.  A properly run system emits practically negligible amounts of greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels.

2.  They do not emit any carbon dioxide.

3.  They are not radioactive.

4.  They do not require any sort of fire or combustion, so there is no risk of explosions or radioactive spills.

Negative Environmental Impact of Hydroelectricity List:

1.  Hydro turbine generators, especially when is the form of a dam can cause serious damage to the surrounding ecosystems.

2.  The water near the surface of a dam will become warmer, which will lower the oxygen content of the water and negatively impact certain species of plants and animals in the environment.

3.  The height of the water level may frequently change when using a dam system which impacts the environment of plants and animals, especially animals that use the water near the shore line.

4.  Dams make it difficult for fish to migrate up or downstream.  Fish ladders are sometimes installed to make it easier for fish to travel past a dam, but it still can impede the movement of fish.

Environmental Impact of Hydroelectricity (Micro-Hydro):

Micro-Hydro Electricity will not have the same negative environmental effects as large hydroelectric systems such as dams because micro systems require a much smaller, or often times, no reservoir of water to operate effectively.  Yes, the micro hydroelectric systems will have a similar negative impact on the environment, but they will be significantly less than the larger dam systems that require a large reservoir of water.

There is little doubt that the environmental impact of hydroelectricity can be net positive if a system is properly planned and managed.  The ecosystem within a hydroelectric can be very sensitive to changes, but there can be a net benefit to society and nature with the alternative to fossil fuels.