On hearing how important hydroelectricity is to New York State and their green energy initiatives, I wanted to understand what draw backs may come with the sustainable energy option. In the book “Sustainable Energy–without the hot air”, the author explores what is necessary to make hydroelectricity and he states that all “you need [is] altitude, and you need rainfall” (55, MacKay). He goes in further with an anecdote rooted in math to prove that hydroelectricity is not compatible with all countries rain flows, and ultimately their ability to create a sustainable amount of hydroelectricity to account for the populations energy demands.
The country that showcases the shortcomings of this issue in Britain, a country notorious for its’ rainfall, by estimating the gravitational power of the rain in both the low and high lands by multiplying the rainfall, by the density of the water, by the strength of gravity, and the typical altitude of the lands above the sea. Once the calculations for both the low lands and high lands gravitational power of rain, independently of each other, and then added up together, the author was able to show that the limits of the hydroelectric energy production you can create/capture in a day is 1.5 kWh/d.
This is a minute amount of energy relative to what biomass, solar heating, and wind energy are able to produce about over fifteen times the amount of energy over the same period of time. The author also explains that, “The actual power from hydroelectricity in the UK today is 0.2 kWh/d per person, so this 1.5kWh/d per person would require a seven-fold in- crease in hydroelectric power” (56, MacKay). Hydroelectricity seems to have some major set backs and ultimately seems like an investment of time and energy that may not be worth it fiscally compared to other renewable energy sources.
It is promising to see how beneficial hydroelectric energy can be in a society that receives significant rainfall every year. However, it was surprising to see that Great Britain was on the lower side of the spectrum in regards to rainfall per year. I agree with your statement that hydroelectricity may not be worth it fiscally compared to other resources. Although that may be factual I can see there being positives from countries or cities that do receive significant rainfall which could lead to them providing others with the electricity. That could lead to new relationships and new alliances bringing together neighboring countries who may have never been in talks before.
This is important research that is necessary if Americans are serious about increasing the use of renewable energy in this country. It is important to understand which sources of energy are the most efficient and the most inefficient so that we may invest time and resources into renewable energy systems that will, in the end, pay for themselves. While I do think hydroelectricity is valuable in some places around the world, such as New Zealand, it is important for environmentalists to be able to admit that not all renewable energy sources are completely viable all around the world.
I liked that we posted about the same data! Overall we both found that hydroelectricity does not seem like a completely fulfilling alternative to less sustainable measures. In your comment on my post you mentioned incorporating hydroelectricity alongside other main energy generators. I believe this would be the most efficient way to make use of hydro powered electricity, as well as researching ways in which we might improve hydro electric power.
It’s interesting to see how hydroelectricity works, but you bring up a good point that it may not make any fiscal sense in the long run to invest in hydroelectricity. And the example of Great Britain is an interesting one, but it would also be interesting to see what numbers would look like in countries with less rainfall but higher altitudes to see if there is any sort of change or difference in the final energy production.