Environmental and Ecological Impacts Associated with Hydroelectric Power Plants

Environmental and Ecological Impacts Associated with Hydroelectric Power Plants



in this video we're going to be discussing Pumped hydroelectric power stations or pumped hydroelectric power plants and we're going to be looking at some of the potential environmental and ecological impacts associated with their use we're going to use the example of code to our pond which is actually based in Belgium so here we have a photograph of co2 our pond and what we see is we have two upper reservoirs which are used to deliver water into a lower reservoir now with it being a pumped hydroelectric power station when there's an excess of power being generated on the grid water is pumped from the lower reservoir through tubes up to the upper reservoir and when the demand for electricity on the grid is higher than not being supplied the water is released from the upper reservoirs back through the pipes and through the pumps which will now be acting as turbines and that's going to produce electricity back to the grid so before we consider some of the impacts associated with this let's first of all consider some of the benefits now one of the challenges of generating electricity through renewable sources is storing their energy it should be apparent that things like wind energy and solar energy are some are unpredictable at times we can produce an abundance of energy and other times there's a shortfall in our requirements so energy storage is going to be a huge focus in the future as we convert more about energy production to renewable sources and there's actually relatively limited technologies for storing electricity so that's the first benefit of this type of station I'm not a huge benefit is that we can deliver on-demand power so here in the UK the National Grid is responsible for monitoring usage on the grid and then they would actually contract power stations to either increase or reduce their production of electricity the huge advantage with this type of plant is that it can provide that on demand electrical power and in fact Cottam Oliphant can provide up to 1,200 megawatts of power for up to six hours now just to put that into context that's roughly the same power production of a nuclear power station or as another example the largest offshore wind turbines at this time a 10 megawatt machines so this can provide the same amount of power as 120 of the biggest offshore wind turbines and don't forget that wind turbines don't always produce their relative power has to be certain wind conditions for them to produce their 10 megawatts so this power plant has the potential to produce a huge amount of electricity on demand now another huge benefit is that this is clean energy we're not burning any fossil fuels we're not producing any carbon dioxide but nonetheless there are still some ecological and environmental impacts the first thing to consider is the impact this might have on fish migration the way that the lower reservoir was created here was by damming the natural flow of the river so that's obviously going to affect the flow of the river and potentially the creatures living in and around the river another potential impact is over land-use and habitats the two upper reservoirs we see here a man-made we can see around the outside that this forest area so the likelihood is that being deforestation in order to create these two upper reservoirs by doing so the likelihood is that some habitats have been disrupted as a result so this is obviously an important consideration when constructing a new power plant of this type or any other type another potential impact is the impact that this has on the temperature of the water when the waters delivered through the pumps or returned through the turbines that's actually going to cause the water temperature to increase so these are all things that need to be considered now generally when new technologies are being considered for a new site an environmental impact assessment will be carried out in order to look at all of the possible impacts and then weigh those up against the potential benefits and that's exactly what I want to encourage you to do because if we look at impacts in isolation it would be easy to put forward an argument as to why the development of this plant should never have gone ahead if we consider the benefits and we consider the alternatives then that's likely to sway the opinion in the favor of developing such plans so are some of the alternatives to Pumped hydro electric power well well as mentioned earlier one of the challenges we face is storing energy and there are very few technologies for storing energy but what we do have is technologies for producing on-demand power some of the different technologies that are available are nuclear power is an example and we also have biomass plants biomass is a carbon neutral crop which absorbs carbon dioxide when it grows and then releases that carbon dioxide when it's burned so it's what we call carbon neutral some of the more traditional alternatives are things such as our gas-fired and our coal-fired power plants the advantage of these types of plants is when demand increases we can simply burn more fossil fuels this should be apparent that there's impacts associated with that as well because then we're producing carbon dioxide which potentially has a damaging impact on the environment also so in this video we've talked about some of the benefits of Pumped hydro electric storage plants and we've also considered some of the impacts hopefully by considering the alternatives it will help to stimulate some thought and enable you to evaluate whether you believe that Pumped hydro electric storage is beneficial or whether the environmental and ecological impacts outweigh the potential benefits you

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