Hydroelectricity

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Definition

From Wikipedia's entry on Hydroelectricity: Hydroelectricity, or hydroelectric power, is a form of hydropower that use the energy released as a result of water falling, or flowing downhill, under the influence of gravity to produce electricity. Hydroelectricity is a renewable energy source.

Examples

  • The Hoover Dam, located between Arizona and Nevada, is probably the world's most famous hydroelectic generator.
  • BC Hydro is the name of British Columbia's state energy company. It is one of the world's largest network of hydroelectric dams.

Policies

  • In 1961 the British Columbia Social Credit Party (Socred) nationalized "the province's largest private hydroelectric concern to make sure that it could not oppose the government's hydroelectric dam construction program." The Socreds then proceeded to build one of the largest networks of hydroelectric dams in the world. Much of the construction was financed by American loans on the condition that BC Hydro would export electricity to the United States (at a fixed price) for several decades. That arrangment has resulted in reliable contributions to the Province's coffers and occasional bonuses (as happened when BC increased exports during the 2001 California Energy Crisis). (Canada : British Columbia)

Environmental Issues

Hydroelectric power is a form of renewable energy which generates little or no greenhouse gases or other forms of waste when it is operated. This is a major benefit of hydroelectric power compared to fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Hydroelectric power is not without environmental impacts, however. Hydroelectric dams flood large regions, destroying habitats, interrupt river flow which distrupts fish migration (a particular problem with salmon runs in the Pacific Northwest) and harms river ecologies (for example, ending the river floods that scoured the river basin free of silt), and are major construction projects which have an environmental impact (including fossil fuel use) involved in activities connected with that construction.

Hydroelectic power supplies are also finite. There are only so many rivers, and in the United States, many of the most attractive sites to locate hydroelectic power plants reasonably close to population centers have already been largely exploited.

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