At OEI, we’re often asked our opinion on what the best type of energy source is currently. Ultimately, there isn’t one simple answer to that question. In fact, there are many pros and cons to each fuel source.
In addition, these benefits and drawbacks are often complex and have to be considered from many different angles. While we can’t form your opinion for you, we can shed light on some of the important facts.
From environmental implications to cost concerns, we’re breaking down the top 5 fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages and comparing them with hydropower.
What Is Hydropower?
Let’s lay some basic groundwork on what we mean when we refer to hydropower throughout this article. Hydropower is an energy source that harnesses the power of water to create electricity on demand. Water flows through massive turbines to produce a reliable source of electricity.
Although it’s touted as being among the cleanest forms of energy, there are some serious drawbacks to hydropower, too.
Let’s get started by exploring the top fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages and taking a closer look at hydropower.
Initial Costs Associated with Hydropower
First, let’s talk expenses. When it comes to fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages, it’s crucial to consider the associated costs. When you think about mining for coal or removing oil from our ocean, you probably envision a massive, very costly operation. And you’re correct. But, before you start waving the flag for hydropower, it’s imperative to learn more about the costs associated with a hydroelectric dam…
While there are many benefits to hydropower which we will get into later, the initial cost of a hydroelectric dam is the big elephant in the room. Simply put, these dams are very, very expensive to build.
From the initial planning which requires a team of people to the complex engineering and construction of the system, there are a multitude of expenditures associated with getting these systems up and running. In fact, every phase of these dams requires a team of people and spans many years to put into action. Ultimately, hydropower doesn’t begin to provide a ROI until the system is fully operational and running smoothly.
At the end of the day, fossil fuels get a bad rep for being super costly to take from the ground up. I’m not denying that this is true, but the alternative of planning and executing a new hydro dam simply isn’t any more cost effective. That’s a fact that most people ignore when considering fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages.
The Impact on the Environment
Along with the costs associated with hydropower, several environmental concerns rank high on the list of its disadvantages. First, the construction of the dam itself significantly alters the landscape where it’s built. The system requires sections of land to be flooded in order to operate, killing or at minimum, severely impacting vegetation in its path.
Next, the fish population are often greatly impacted by hydroelectric dams. Migrating fish cannot access their spawning grounds when there is a dam blocking their way. Although there are solutions to this problem, such as fish ladders and trapping methods, they’re costly and don’t always ensure the fish survive.
On the other hand, hydropower dams create reservoirs that may be considered a benefit to some people. These reservoirs can be stocked with fish to allow people to fish, or simply to enjoy a place to boat or swim. So, while they may possess a few small benefits for the environment, hydropower dams are not much better than oil refineries.
The bottom line: when it comes to fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages, environmental considerations of any kind cannot be ignored.
A Fight for Land
In a similar vein to environmental concerns, it’s vital to consider where these hydro dams are being built. As we’ve mentioned above, they’re not only incredibly expensive and take years to execute, but they also require a lot of space somewhere, too. So, where are they being built? A fight for land is often a consideration when reviewing fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages, and taking into consideration where to place windmills or oil refineries. However, this conversation also pertains to creating renewable energy sources as well, such as hydropower dams.
Similar to other fuel sources, hydropower requires a major operation, on a large chunk of land. It’s really no different than windmills needing serious acreage which may displace people in the area. The nature of hydro dams requires large sections of land being flooded, so saying it requires people to ‘relocate’ is putting it nicely. It will literally obliterate their immediate community.
Although this may not be at the top of the list of fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages, the displacement of people due to hydropower is a very real issue.
A Domestic Source of Energy
Now it’s time to consider some of the positive aspects of hydropower in comparison to other forms of fossil fuels. First, consider that hydropower allows the United States to create their own source of fuel right here in America. This equates to our country being less reliant on other types of fossil fuels. When comparing fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages, this is a huge plus for hydro power and major disadvantage of traditional energy types.
Additionally, hydropower is fueled by water, making it completely sustainable. The system relies on water cycles that are determined by the sun. A cleaner energy course that doesn’t rely on other fossil fuels to run it, or produce any carbon emissions? Now that doesn’t sound so bad after all.
One of the biggest benefits of hydropower is its efficiency. Outside of occasional maintenance requirements, there is essentially zero downtime for these systems. There are few other energy producing operations that can say the same.
When you consider that windmills only produce energy when it’s windy, or solar power can only be captured during the daytime, this is a huge benefit. Additionally, the energy produced in a dam can be stored and saved until it’s needed.
Adding to its overall efficiency are the variety of uses for the reservoirs attached to these dams. As we previously mentioned, they’re often used for many recreational activities such as boating and swimming. They can also be used for irrigation purposes as well.
Considering Important Fossil Fuels Advantages and Disadvantages
Ultimately, there are several pros and cons to any type of energy source. Although hydro dams may ultimately produce a cleaner source of energy, they require major upfront costs and many environmental factors. We’ve all heard the concerns about digging for fossil fuels and the process that it involves. What you may not have realized is the impact a hydro dam has on a community as well.
It’s important to do your research when it comes to fossil fuels advantages and disadvantages because you may be surprised at what you discover. Explore additional information on recent weak crude oil prices and discover what I’ve said previously about concerns regarding solar energy.
We’ll always tell it to you straight at Oil And Energy.