1 Tahrcountry Musings: Hydroelectric Power is not as clean as it is made out to be

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hydroelectric Power is not as clean as it is made out to be

Hydroelectric power is listed as a very clean source of power, totally unpolluting. This conventional thought has been turned on its head by a latest piece of research by Brazil's National Institute for Research in the Amazon.
The study says the hydroelectric power generation systems could be releasing significant amounts of methane into the environment. This release is done by the rotting vegetation in the dam.
The submerged vegetation will decompose without oxygen over time, producing dissolved methane. The flow brings in a continuous supply of plant matter to decay.  Plants that grow on the banks of reservoir are submerged when the rainy season comes. The dissolved methane is released into the atmosphere when the water passes through the dam's turbines.
A study of one dam in ParĂ¡, Brazil found that its effect on the climate was more than three and a half times greater than if the same quantity of energy had been produced by burning oil.
Even if we take in to consideration the fact that the plants will have taken some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere during their growth cycle the effect is still deleterious as methane is 21 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Hydroelectric power still scores as it is a renewable source of energy.

1 comment:

Vijayan.K Nair said...

a very informative piece