Here in New Zealand, we’re lucky to have significant hydro resources we can use to power our nation. Currently, hydro supplies around 60% of New Zealand’s power needs, and is one of the cheapest forms of renewable power available. Let’s take a look at how hydropower benefits our environment, our community, and our personal lives.
Hydropower uses water to create energy. This means that it uses a clean energy source, instead of burning fossil fuels. As long as water continues to flow, a hydropower station will continue to produce power.
Hydropower stations can also benefit the environment in other ways. In many areas, the stations act as flood control, irrigation, and water supply to nearby wildlife areas or farms.
Here in New Zealand, we pump all power into a national grid. However, research has shown localised power grids are generally more effective, especially as technology evolves. As the electricity industry changes, we may see more local microgrids in New Zealand.
Hydropower can be an excellent way to manage a microgrid. In many areas of the world, hydropower allows individual states or communities to create their own power grid, providing significant benefits to the community.
Another thing that many communities like about hydropower is the fact that the stations can be hidden in the landscape. In Norway, hydropower stations are built underneath fjords, so they don’t ruin the pristine landscape.
The reservoirs that are created by hydropower plants can also offer recreational activities and tourism for a community. Fishing, swimming, and boating are popular, and most power plants are required to offer public access for these activities.
If you think about hydropower from a personal perspective, it can help reduce your energy costs. Hydropower is one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy and as fossil fuels become more scarce, it will be even more competitive.
Because water in hydro dams can be conserved for later use, we can save it for periods when other renewable sources (such as wind and solar) aren’t as efficient. This can help keep costs down and ensure a steady power source to every New Zealand home.
There are some pretty compelling reasons why hydropower should continue to be an important part of New Zealand’s renewable energy plans. To find out more about how you can support renewable energy and save on your power bill, see Ecotricity.