You probably thought that building new hydro-electric power plants might be a good way to provide clean carbon-free electricity? After all – it would create jobs and it is also viewed as a “renewable” energy source. However, environmentalist say that building new hydro-electric dam projects are expensive and a destructive way to generate renewable energy. They claim they are neither “green” nor environmentally friendly.
They claim that building new hydro-electric plants will result in significant adverse environmental effects. For example; it will, most likely, destroy the habitat for many species, some of which, are already vulnerable to extinction – including bird, plant, butterfly, bee, and mammal species.
In addition, they have found that creating these reservoirs produces more carbon emissions than was ever realized – approximately 80% of their emissions are in the form of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 34 time more potent than carbon dioxide.
Building the reservoir needed for a hydro-electric power plant can result in the loss of rich farmland, wetlands, and forests – not to mention the loss of a living laboratory for scientists to study how species adapt to climate change. Since, in most cases, creation of the reservoir will inundate some valley location – these valleys are typically flyways for migratory birds and will most likely disrupt their migratory pattern.
They concede that in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s hydro-electric projects made financial sense, but today with all the other renewable energy options available and the increased cost to build them it is not a good option – even financially. They recommend wind, geothermal, solar, or pumped storage hydro as a better and more affordable option. The plummeting prices for wind energy and other renewables, coupled with the abundance of shale natural gas, means that the power produced from new hydro-electric dams could not be sold at a price that would even come close to what it would costs to produce it.