The Use of Renewable Energy: Advantages and Disadvantages


Today’s world is dependent on electricity, which is supplied from many different sources such as fossils fuels which emit harmful gases that pollute the environment and contribute to global warming by producing large quantities of CO2. However, with recent improvements in technology, renewable energy has been introduced in our daily lives in the form of solar power. Other forms of renewable energy that are consistently used include hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal power among others (International Rivers Network 2015). At present, the use of renewable energy has spread across the globe. This treatise attempts to support the statement that there are both advantages and disadvantages to the use of renewable energy with focus on hydroelectric power.

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Advantages and Disadvantages to the Use of Renewable Energy

Hydroelectric power is a very clean method of producing renewable energy since “it does not produce any greenhouse gases and is the cleanest of all the renewable energy sources” (National Geographic 2015, par. 4). Hydroelectric power uses the power of water to create electricity. In addition, hydroelectric power stations are very cost efficient as the set up costs are relatively low. Besides, the power station requires minimal labour and can run from 50-100 years within very minimal maintenance cost. Moreover, hydroelectric dams are very reliable as compared to other forms of renewable energy since hydroelectric dams can run 24/7 as long as there is steady flow of recyclable water in the turbines (Damaschke 2015).

Despite the fact that hydroelectric dams are considered cost efficient, they are not suited for a lot of countries, especially third world states as since the initial costs is considerably high. Besides, it would take at least 5-8 years to breakeven and start making profit when a hydropower project is completed (The International Conservation Society 2015).

Though water used in running hydroelectric power is often recyclable, the hydroelectric dams disrupt the natural flow of a river, thus, endangering marine life and disrupting the natural flow of water that may be needed by the locals or farmers. If the dam construction is substandard, it may not be strong enough to hold back water during a natural disaster such as an earthquake. Failure of the dam to withstand such disasters may cause the dam to break; releasing large quantities of water that can cause massive flooding and destroy property worth millions of dollars in a very short time (Damaschke 2015).

The largest hydropower station in the world is found in China. The Three Gorges Dam in china has the capacity of producing 22,500 MW (International Rivers Network 2015). The dam is large and strong enough to stop flooding as it can hold massive volumes of water in its reservoir. The dam cost china $22.5 billion to construct and is the structure was made up of concrete and steel to ensure safety (International Rivers Network 2015). In Africa, the cost of similar product would be an impediment towards its implementation.


Renewable sources of energy have become increasingly preferred because they are efficient and cost effective. At present, many countries are starting to invest in hydroelectric power generation because of its status as clean energy. However, the aspect of high cost in installation and vulnerability to natural disasters are impediments towards realization of full potential of hydropower as a renewable source of energy across the globe.

Reference List

Damaschke, N 2015, Alternative energy: Hydroelectric power. Web.

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International Rivers Network 2015, The Three Gorges Dam Project. Web.

National Geographic 2015, Hydroelectric power. Web.

The International Conservation Society 2015, Fossil fuels-dangers and conservation. Web.

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