Saturday, 18 August 2012

Hydro Debate report

My contribution to renewable energy discussion (Chris Davies MEP) on LibDem Voice:-

Why does no-one mention hydroelectricity these days? Look at the success of Kielder Reservoir – and it also provides leisure facilities and a soulution to drought. According to US Dept of Energy figures, (Wikipedia – cost of energy by sources), average dollars per M/Wh, hydro costs 89.9, onshore wind 96.8, offshore wind 330.6(!) solar 156.9 and biomass 120.2. Wave power is estimated at 611(!!). So hydro really is the way to go, for renewable energy. Regretfully, critics who aren’t interested in pollution problems would point out that most conventional power sources are cheaper than this, particularly gas.

It was suggested that (a) Hydro was not the best resource for Britain, space wise/availability of  water with a sufficient fall in gradient, and (b) hydro in the Amazon was associated with significant methane outgassing.

My reply:-

Yes, I agree that it is good that LibDems can debate the issues.I still support Hydroelectricity for use in Britain. Re: the New Scientist article – some criticisms.
The amount of decaying vegetation generating gases in a biomass generator like the Amazon Basin is far in excess of somewhere like Scotland – and even the writer acknowledges the results are far less consequence in colder climates.
Methane would be produced by rotting vegetation whether it fell into the water or not – soil and agriculture produce about half of the world’s methane, and one of the biggest sources is rice fields.
There have been proposals for extracting the methane dams generate .
There seems to be an assumption that all hydroelectric power needs big dams – certainly they’re useful, but homes near water can have a waterwheel to generate electricity just as easily as having their own wind turbine.
There’s a great page on the pro/con debate for hydroelectricity on

Yes I know I'm obsessed with Hydro, but we need lots of different renewable energy sources to mitigate the end of fossil fuel pollutants. More investment in infrastructure! Now please!

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