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Hydroelectric power involves the generation of power from streaming or falling water. The constant flow of water in a river is used to run the turbines. The kinetic energy of running water helps in rotating the external turbines which in turn rotate the magnets tied to them inside the generator to produce hydroelectric power. The water then exits the rotating turbine and falls back to the streaming river. To achieve all this a blocking wall has to be built across a river to allow for the kinetic buildup for fruitful rotation of the turbines. Acreman (1996), explains the importance of water in a broad perspective. He points out that water is a true source of life and a major component of almost everything we see around. This paper seeks to explore the potential solution of hydroelectric power in Zambia.
Compared to other sources of energy, hydroelectric power is far more reliable than the rest. Acreman (1996), hydroelectric power has a low potential of failing than other systems of power production. People in rural Zambia can greatly rely on hydroelectric power as the sole lighting source of energy. This is because once in place, a single power plant can cater for a vast number of people (Munyati, 2010). Similarly, the amount of power produced by a single power plant can sustain a population using all equipment with no need of booster sources of energy.
On the same note, hydroelectric power is cheaper. In comparison with previously used sources of power such as generators, the cost of fuel in a month exceeds, by far, the amount paid as electricity bill in most average homes. In summary, hydroelectric power combines reliability and cost effectiveness to curb energy problems in most rural areas. A good example is given by Purohit (2008), the amount of money that average families use on fuel for one month is three times the amount they would use on overall fuel usage in the home. This is true compared to the rising fuel prices in most developing countries.
Hydroelectric power comes with advantages such as the aforementioned; reliability and cost-effectiveness. Hydroelectric power is renewable, this is because it uses the Earths water to form energy, the sun shines on the water, evaporation takes place, and the clouds form resulting in the rain which replaces the water once again. Munyati (2010) explains that people do not have to worry about increased costs due to scarcity. Similarly, production does not emit any greenhouse gasses hence it is considered a clean source of energy or green energy. The local community also benefits from recreational opportunities that come with hydroelectric power; the lake that forms behind the dam is a good fishing site, for instance, swimming, irrigation water, and boat rides. Lastly, it is demand matching in that, the backup the energy needed in low consumption areas can be stored and used when utilization levels rise.
However, hydroelectric power, to some extent, damages the environment. A natural process such as fish migration, alteration of the flow of water for the people downstream and the development of streets and power lines seem to disturb the principles of nature (Acreman, 1996). Climate change such as a drought impacts heavily on the plant. Such a situation would lead to complete power cut-off or another case power rationing. Purohit (2008) points out that the key factor to identifying a good location for a power plant is the impact of climate on the flow of water in the river. Lastly, the people living downstream are likely to suffer low water supply and induced calamities such as floods in case water is released full-force from the walls of the dam (Corley, 2010).
In conclusion, hydroelectric power establishment in Mayukwayukwa, Zambia would be a significant boost to the economy of the people living in the area. However, stern measures should be undertaken to ensure that the aftermath brings more positive impacts to the community than negative.
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