Hydroelectricity

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  • Hey! Did you hear about the new hydroelectric dam they're building on the river?
  • No, what's a hydroelectric dam?
  • A hydroelectric dam is a dam used to generate electricity. The dam blocks the river to create a reservoir, and eventually the water is released down pipes that lead to a turbine. The pressure created by the rushing water causes the turbine to turn, which turns a generator to create electricity.
  • Wow, that's really cool! But why use hydroelectrical energy when you could just use fossil fuels like coal and oil to generate power?
  • Energy production using fossil fuels can create air pollution and cause damage to the environment. Fossil fuels are also not a renewable energy source. However, the production of hydroelectricity doesn't pollute the environment, and water is a renewable energy source, meaning it won't run out.
  • Oh, that makes sense. But what about other renewable energy resources, like wind and solar? Why should we be using hydroelectricity instead?
  • Although both solar and wind energy are both sustainable energy sources, they aren't always reliable. If the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining, then electricity can't be generated. However with hydroelectricity, power can always be generated as long as there's water in the dam.
  • A hydroelectric dam and power plant must be pretty expensive to set up though...
  • Yeah, the cost of building and setting up the dam and power plant is definitely one of the greatest disadvantages of hydroelectricity. However, once the power plant is initially built, the costs of running it are relatively low compared to other energy resources. 
  • You had said that hydroelectricity doesn't create pollution, but are there any other costs that the production of hydroelectricity could have on the environment?
  • Yes, another disadvantage that comes with the production of hydroelectricity is the potential harm it could cause to the aquatic ecosystem. Damming the river and changing its water flow could have significant and harmful effects on fish and other aquatic species in the area.
  • Oh no! However, after learning all about hydroelectricity, I'd say it still sounds like a pretty worthwhile energy source. You said that they were building a hydroelectric power plant here, but are there many other hydroelectric power plants in Canada? 
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