Hydropower: The Key to Cheap Electricity?

You are probably already aware that using renewable energy is much better for producing electricity than using fossil fuels. When choosing the best, most dependable source of power, we are left with a few options after eliminating fossil fuel from the running.

Four Earths provides you with information about hydropower in this article, including what it is, how it can produce affordable electricity, and how using it might reduce your future energy costs.

What is Hydropower, and how does it work?


In a nutshell, it is a renewable energy source that turns a turbine by turning water, which produces electricity. Unlike coal or oil, it doesn’t emit emissions that harm the environment, making it a “clean” energy source. While it would be challenging to have a nation entirely powered by water, hydroelectric dams can be used to supplement other energy sources like solar and wind energy.

Because they allow us to meet our electricity needs at a lower cost than other sources, dams are a crucial component of electricity grids. In fact, this type of power generation is one of the “cheapest sources of energy.” Its low cost is in part due to the fact that once a dam has been built, the resources (water) that are required to generate power come completely free of charge – by blocking a natural stream or through the rain.

…Alright, how does it work?

Hydropower is a clean and renewable energy source that can provide cheap electricity. Dams are the most common method of generating water-based electricity. In the technical sense, a dam is a large reservoir of water that is let out in controlled amounts to generate power.

Large amounts of gravitational potential energy are stored in the water contained in a dam. Gravitational potential energy is converted into kinetic energy as water is released from a dam, which turns the turbines, which in turn drives the generator to create electricity. 

The turbines are located at the top of the dam and use the kinetic energy of flowing water to turn the propeller-like blades. These blades create electricity by moving through a magnetic field and turning a rotary magnet.

Using this method of electricity generation has many benefits, including the ability to provide power in areas where other forms of energy are not available.

Pros and Cons of Hydropower


  • Since hydropower doesn’t use fossil fuels, it has no impact on global warming.
  • It offers dependable and affordable electricity in outlying areas.
  • It might lessen the reliance on fossil fuels like coal or oil for the production of electricity.
  • Some dams could be helpful for supplying energy to urban areas because they are situated close to important transportation hubs.


  • While they are cost – effective to operate, hydroelectric dams may be quite costly to build.
  • Dams can release large amounts of water that must be dealt with properly.
  • Many hydropower plants draw water from polluted rivers and lakes.
  • Dams can be vulnerable to floods and earthquakes. The history of hydropower has incidents of floods and tsunamis linked to it.

Hydropower has drawbacks despite being a relatively cheap way to produce electricity. In order to harness the energy of moving water to produce electricity, hydropower plants are typically built on rivers or other waterways. Hydroelectric dam building can, however, lead to a number of problems that need to be resolved.

The environmental impact of hydroelectric dams is one of their main drawbacks. Hydroelectric dams have the potential to seriously harm species and habitats, as well as disturb natural ecosystems.

Hydroelectric dams’ effects on communities downstream present another problem. People who reside in the immediate neighborhood are frequently displaced by dams as a result of construction activities. This frequently causes upstream areas to experience greater poverty and social inequality as well as less access to resources and services.

Despite these difficulties, hydroelectric projects continue to be an important part of the world’s renewable energy sector. To prevent environmental harm and social inequality, it is crucial that these projects are well-planned and executed.

Causes for Increased Interest in Hydropower

Hydropower has long been a reliable, environmentally friendly, and renewable source of energy. Its favorable effect on the environment is one of its most important advantages because it emits no harmful greenhouse gases and doesn’t call for any intrusive mining or drilling.

But the affordability of hydropower is just as appealing as its environmental friendliness. One of the most affordable ways to produce electricity in the United States is through hydropower dams, which only cost $46 per megawatt-hour compared to about $53 for electricity produced using coal.

And if that wasn’t enough, hydropower is also incredibly efficient, converting a whopping 90% of its energy into electricity. This is in stark contrast to most fossil fuel-powered methods, which tend to waste around 40% of their energy.

In addition to its affordability, another key advantage of this method of power generation is its variability. Unlike methods of generating renewable energy, which operates throughout the day,  power generation in hydroelectric dams can be controlled.


Renewable hydropower is a clean source of electricity that has been around for centuries. It’s often considered to be the key to cheap electricity, as it only requires capital investment for the construction process and can provide power at a lower cost than other nonrenewable forms of energy. For countries looking for a cheaper source of energy, especially those that are struggling to pay for crude oil imports, building dams may be the perfect solution.

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