3rd Assignment: Energy Mix and Renewable Energies
impacts of hydropower
A very interesting source of renewable energy being used is the run-of-river. Run-of-river projects are done as small scale hydroelectric projects that do not need dams’ structure to be built. In British Columbia, the local topography boosts the construction of new run-of-river projects since it uses the natural flow and elevation of a river or creek to create hydropower. Run-of-river’s footprint is smaller than traditional hydropower plants and basically relies on the potential energy of water being conducted in a buried penstock that will generate power in water turbines downhill.
Hydroelectric dams are Canada’s most predominant sources of electricity. These dams can vary in size, from small runof-river projects to huge dams that fill valleys, expand rivers and create vast reservoirs. Although hydroelectric production is a relatively clean source of energy, it still has ecological and environmental impacts. The natural topography and water source dictates where the projects are possible and yet the flow of water must be altered to increase the effectiveness of the individual facility. This change, either as an expansion of a river or the flooding of a valley greatly impacts the natural habitat of native species and can disrupt aquatic life, such as the spawning routes for fish. Valuable forest areas are also at risk of being lost or disturbed by the hydroelectric projects. Culturally, the alteration of our lakes and rivers can affect Native American settlements and impact the traditional fishing and hunting areas. Although these activities are mainly ceremonial, it creates a political issue among Native leaders and the respective decision makers. Planning for dams and electrical producing facilities must be done carefully with respect to the cultural, political and environmental impacts.