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Disadvantages of Hydroelectric Power Plants: Part-2

written by: Haresh Khemani•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 10/19/2009

There are many advantages of the hydroelectric power plants, but there are also numbers of disadvantages of the hydroelectric power plants. The hydroelectric power plants can be dangerous to aquatic life and can cause many other environmental concerns.

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    Drawbacks of the Hydroelectric Power Plants

    Go back to part-1 of this article

    Here are some more disadvantages of the hydroelectric power plants:

    5) Very high capital cost or investment: The initial cost of the construction of the hydroelectric power plants is very high. It also takes long time to construct the plant. Lots of designing, planning, and testing goes into the construction of the dams. Each dam is unique in itself so the designs cannot be standardized. Construction of dams requires lots of steel, iron and cement which make the hydroelectric power plants very expensive. The project can contain multiple risks to humans and/or the environment. Overall, lots of time, money and human efforts are invested in the construction of hydroelectric power plants.

    6) High quality construction: The construction materials used for the construction of the dams should be of high quality. Any breakage in the dam can cause large scale destruction of the human, plant and animal lives. The failure of the Banqiao Dam in China resulted in the deaths of more than 171,000 people and millions of people were rendered homeless.

    7) Site specific: The hydroelectric power plants cannot be constructed at any locations. They can be constructed only in places where abundant quantity of water is available at sufficient height and throughout the year. A number of other safety parameters also have to be considered. Construction of the dams at inappropriate locations can cause human casualties. An example of the inappropriate locations is of the Vajont Dam in Italy, where almost 2000 people died, in the year 1963.

    8) Affects on environment: Though the hydroelectric power plants do not require any fuel, don’t produce greenhouse gases and don’t create pollution directly, it does have a number of detrimental affects on the environment. The construction activity of the dam itself disturbs the environment to a great scale.

    When the course of water is changed the surrounding areas may get flooded disturbing natural flora and fauna. Human beings living in these areas also get displaced. The large quantities of water collected due to the floods also emit a lot of greenhouses gases like carbon dioxide. Thus though the hydroelectric power plants don’t generate greenhouse gases directly, they generate it indirectly. Over several years, a number of vehicles coming to the construction site for loading and unloading materials also emit greenhouse gases that directly affect the sensitive plants and animal life found in forests.

    9) Safety of the dams: The safety of the dams is very crucial as it can affect lives of millions of people. In this age when the terrorists attacks are increasing there are greater concerns for the safety of large dams.

    Read the first 4 disadvantages in part-1 of this article