With all the environmentalists, ecologists and nature lovers raising their voice out loud to embrace the potential of renewable energy in promoting climate resilience, hydroelectricity has become a concept of great importance. But, is it really effective in fulfilling our agenda or somewhat leading us to further devastation? Researchers have recently stated reports, warning us for underestimating the dreadful impact of global warming for a long time.
Claims of Hydroelectricity being a sustainable choice to stop global warming are questioned on a significant note. Dams were once evaluated as responsible for posing environmental damage but, now are perceived to be acceptable from a global warming perspective. Rotting vegetation is observed to generate 25% more methane than what was being presumed and represents around 1.3% of the total amount of annual human-caused greenhouse emissions. When this phenomenon was observed over a 100-year timescale, dams are being observed to generate more methane compared to the biomass burning and rice plantations.
Polluting the Environment
Methane is generated and accumulated at the bottom of reservoirs, where the microbes (bacteria) decompose the organic materials such as grasses and trees due to the low amount of oxygen, which is already carried by the watercourse. A substantial proportion of methane gets converted into carbon dioxide whereas, the rest gets carried to the surface in the form of bubbles. While analyzing a number of around 250 dams with an emphasis on the bubble-based emissions as well, the researchers have been able to dig out that dams emit more amount of methane compared to the wetlands and lakes.
Impacting the Wildlife
Damaged reservoirs are being utilised for multiple purposes including flood control, agricultural irrigation and recreation. Thus, the dams that are directly not attributing to hydroelectricity cannot be made solely responsible for disturbing the wildlife. However, the hydropower systems can cause a detrimental effect on the course of aquatic ecosystem to a great extent. Though certain methods and measures are being implemented for minimising its impact, however, fishes and various other aquatic organisms might get injured or killed by the turbine blades.
Furthermore, the reservoir water is mostly more stagnant compared to river water. Resultantly, the stored water is presumed to have a huge proportion of nutrients and sediments, which lead to cultivation of excess amount of aquatic weeds like algae. The weeds crowd out the other plant-life and animal species and should be controlled by introducing fishes which, would eat up those plants or manual harvesting.
Global warming emissions are generated during installation and deconstructing of hydroelectricity systems, however, research studies have shown out that emission caused during the facility’s operation can also prove to be of significant harm to the environment. The level of emission varies to a great extent depending on the nature of land, which was being flooded by the dam and size of reservoir. Thus, though numerous energy-efficient innovations are being launched every now and then with the motto to stop global warming, its utility and functionality should be tested by conducting effective quality-check procedures before implementing its usage. On a concluding note, let’s take a pledge of embracing a sustainable change, a change that can truly help our environment to breathe fresh and grow green.