Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydroelectric Power

There are many advantages of hydro power plants. Hydroelectricity produced from dams, tidal barrages, tidal stream generators, dynamic tidal power, wave contour generators, water power buoys, and wave point generators all has the advantage of having higher than average efficiency and lower operational and maintenance related costs. Also all of these make use of renewable energy sources ensuring green sustainable energy production. However there are hydroelectric power disadvantages that impact nearly all of these as well. That lower operating cost is made up for by higher initial construction or deployment costs. Environmental impact is also not negligible (with wave power being a possible exception) and dams or tidal barrages having a significant impact on their surroundings.

Advantages of Hydroelectricity

  • Dams
    • Most efficiency energy at around 90% efficiency.
    • Low operating costs once construction is complete.
    • Proven economically viable energy source.
    • Zero greenhouse gas emissions during operation.
    • Sustainable renewable energy source (condensation/evaporation cycle).
  • Tidal
    • Low operating costs once construction is complete.
    • Minimal environmental impact.
    • Inexhaustible energy source (gravity of Moon/Sun).
    • Very high efficiency of 80%.
    • Zero greenhouse gas emissions during operation.
  • Wave
    • Viable in many locations including offshore sites.
    • Minimal environmental impact.
    • Renewable energy provided from wind driven by heat from Sun.
    • Low deployment costs.
    • Can be constructed and utilized on a small scale by individuals.
    • Zero greenhouse gas emissions during operation.

Disadvantages of Hydroelectricity

  • Dams
    • Dramatically alters local hydrology and habitat for plants, fishes, and microbial life.
    • Reduces amount of arable land available.
    • High up-front construction costs compared to conventional energy (fossil fuels).
    • Poses danger to downriver settlements if dam fails.
    • Most dams use concrete which produces a lot of greenhouse gas emissions during production.
  • Tidal
    • High up-front construction costs compared to almost any other energy source.
    • Can impact habitat and environment both down and upriver if located at estuaries (tidal barrages).
    • Very few locations in the World where economically viable.
  • Wave
    • Higher maintenance costs due to corrosion from salt water and difficulty with sea based operations.
    • Subject to irregular energy production (depends on waves).
    • Energy produced needs to be brought to shore and has limited distribution (users need to be near production).


  1. Thank you for all of the information – I will be using it on my website to encourage people to tread more lightly on our small planet.

    A disadvantage not listed above is how people and animals are displaced when a large dam is constructed and the area nearby is flooded to hold the water.

    An advantage not listed is that very little or no CO2 is created while producing electricity.

    I hope your site expands so that I can return often!

    May the wind move your turbines,

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