Group 65

Group 65

Nowadays, hydroelectric power plants have been widely used around the world. Hydropower, as a clean and renewable source has a great contribution to energy conservation, reducing the emissions from conventional fossil fuel. However, potential risks in environment have also been found in several aspects. Therefore, the engineering ethics regarding whether to continue to develop hydropower or even dismantle existing hydropower has been indicated.

Why hydropower stations should be built

Whether a hydropower station should be built or not need to be evaluated in multiple ways. First of all, for the residents around the hydropower station, the establishment of the hydropower station can effectively solve the problem of electricity consumption, and it will obviously promote the local economic development. Moreover, compared with other types of power stations, hydropower will not threaten the health of residents. This view is considered from the perspective of utilitarianism. In contrast, for environmentalists, building a hydropower station will destroy the surrounding ecological balance and cause a series of irreversible environmental problems. This view is considered from the perspective of sustainable development and maintaining ecological balance.

Based on the utilitarian framework, the advantages of building hydropower station are obvious. What the residents are most concerned about is whether the hydropower station can provide them with the cheap electricity they need. According to the data, the cost of electricity which is generated by hydropower stations is US$0.10 kWh−1, as low as the current electricity generation cost by thermal plants and low-cost wind turbines, so it can be commercialized. Hydropower stations can also bring some other social benefits, such as increasing employment opportunities and alleviating floods, all of these are what residents longing for. So for riverside areas where electricity is urgently needed, the establishment of a hydropower station is almost the best option.

Although hydropower projects have some impact on land and biology, as a kind of renewable energy source, Hydropower stations generate much less pollutants than thermal power stations. The predictions made by institutions shows that using hydropower not only can save fossil fuels, but also can make contribution to protect the environment. When producing 40000 billion kWh electricity, the hydropower station can save 0.16 billion tons of fossil fuels, with a reduction of CO2 at about 0.4 billion tons. Using hydropower is an efficient way to make environment better. Meanwhile, reducing pollutant emissions is an essential part of environmental protection and public health.

In terms of ecological balance, to maintain ecological processes (such as fish migration) and allow sediment transport downstream, hydropower stations can release more than 30% of the natural discharge to keep natural river flow. In addition, very small hydropower stations built in rural areas do not suffer from such issues. Not only due to the scale of the technology but also because of the scant storage of water. Most mini-, micro- and pico-hydropower plants cannot stop the migration of aquatic organisms. Currently, these small hydropower plants are popular in rural areas where electricity is not available.

In summary, hydropower stations should be built because the benefits it brings are far beyond its disadvantages.

Oppose the construction of hydropower plant

It has been proved that although the construction of a hydroelectric power plant may meet the energy demands and propel economic it has negative impacts on the environment, which leads to the debates about whether the hydroelectric power plant should be built.

The main facts are the construction will affect both natural and social environment. For the natural, aquatic ecosystem is influenced because fish cannot migrate to upstream spawning grounds through dams which may lead to an aquatic organism extinction[5]. In addition, huge amount of water stored in the reservoir will be released at certain times of year to avoid drought while it will lead to a negative impact on downstream plants and animals as a result of low dissolved oxygen and lower temperature of water. When it comes to the social problem, the construction of the power plant will force the surrounding residents to move, thus the infrastructure need to be rebuilt. Meanwhile, historical sites and primitive villages will be irreversibly damaged.

The relevant stakeholders including residents, archaeologists, shipping company operators, downstream fishermen and farmers.Moreover, there are more stakeholders as the hydropower station also affects the habitat of animals and the reproduction of fish. Their interest lies in their houses, the protection of cultural relics, the success of the voyage and whether the changes in water quality will hurt their fisheries and agriculture. For these people, the construction of a hydropower station will affect their interests, and the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, thus they will oppose the construction.

To be specific, the reconstruction of cultural relics and the places of interest cannot be remedied and reversed while the migration of the residents may cause social problems. Meanwhile, the relocation fees, and the reconstruction of towns and infrastructure are huge sum of expense. The damage to the ecological environment, from the silt accumulation, difficulties of fish migration, water quality, to the invasion of swamps, forests, and animal habitats, are problems cannot be ignored and it takes a longer time and larger cost to repair it. In the past, scientists and engineers considered too much on energy crisis, neglecting long-term and profound environmental damage which may need more cost to repair. Hydropower station indeed has a promoting effect to economy, but firstly the irreversibility of environmental damage can not be ignored, secondly compared with hydropower station efficiency is relatively lower than those of other power stations , which means it can be replaced by other options.

In the formulation of the moral problem, it is obvious that one is focusing on environmental value and the other pay more attention on economic value, as we hold the opinion of environment protection is more important than the economic benefit, we oppose the construction of hydropower plant.

33 thoughts on “Group 65

  1. I support that hydropower station should be planted. For many rural area, the local geography are very suitable for hydropower station due to the huge elevation drop. At the same time, this kind of factory can provide many job opportunities for local people. As the author said, hydropower is a clean energy that will not lead to air pollution. Air pollution is a crisis for many area and they need clean energy urgently!

  2. Some research indicate that the hydroelectric plants may casue earthquake whether there are more evidences support this idea. If it is ture, I will totally oppose the construction of hydroelectric plants.

  3. “This view is considered from the perspective of utilitarianism.” – Expand this, what should it be considered from utilitarianism. Don’t just drop the name, say why 🙂

    Is your article about large scale dams, or all scale of dams?

    You need to expand on the ethical support for both sides of the argument. You mentioned utilitarianism supports the building of dams. It seems to me that Virtue Ethics could oppose their building, and possible Care Ethics too.

  4. I totally agree with this opinion. It is clearly that some negative effects may be resulted from hydropower plant, espacially on the environment. The effects that are irreversible or need more investment to reduce should be avoided. Because the environment is vital to all, which is the fundation of the sustainable development. In addition, the loss in economics due to the lack of hydropower plant can be compensated in other aspect.

  5. A well written article, covering both perspectives of hydropower stations.
    I just want to highlight some other important things that you may have missed:
    1) For the first part of the article where you stated that hydropower stations generate less pollutant than fossil fuels. I agree with the statement, BUT researches have found that hydropower station has lead to an increase of greenhouse gas emission, methane gas to be exact. Methane was produced from the decomposed plants and trees submerged by the water. Even though methane only stays in the air for up to a decade and CO2 may stay for centuries, methane has contributes 3 times more than CO2 to global warming.
    2) The statement “the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, thus they will oppose the construction” from the 2nd part of the article, it seems to be contradicting. If the benefits will far outweigh the disadvantages, why would the people oppose it?
    3) You mentioned in the 1st part that hydropower station will increase the employment opportunity. But have you considered the fact that they are more people lost their jobs because they were displaced to make way for the construction of the station than the jobs that would be potentially created. For most cases, the displaced residents were from the rural area where their jobs are mainly based on primary industry such as agriculture, livestock farming etc. Even the job opportunity managed to outweigh the local jobs lost, the jobs are highly unlikely to be given to the displaced local residents as it requires skilled people to operate the hydropower stations.

  6. As far as utilitarianism is concerned, the construction of a hydropower station can indeed make most people feel great happiness. However, in terms of liberalism concerned, the happiness of local residents has been deprived of in the construction of hydropower stations. For individuals, development is the hard truth, and the economic base determines the superstructure. Thus, I support utilitarianism more, that is, build hydropower stations. Nothing can satisfy everyone’s needs. Only a dialectical perspective can be used to choose a good match. The construction of hydropower stations will bring about real and practical improvements to the residents. They will first develop the local economy and meet their needs.

  7. This article shows pros and cons clearly and proposes a good opinion. Considering the environmental impact of hydroplant, we should look for a beeter solution to generate power. But if it’s one feasible choice for some reagion, then we should minimize its side impact.

  8. But in other words, there is no clear line between the hidden danger and the clear hazard, but the hidden danger is even less noticeable. From this point of view, hydropower stations must undergo rigorous theoretical research and field investigation before they can be constructed and built. Otherwise, the consequences will be difficult to predict. It need to be noted that there is no clear line between the hidden danger and the clear damage, but the hidden danger is even less noticeable. From this point of view, hydropower stations must undergo rigorous theoretical research and field investigation before they can be constructed and built. Otherwise, the consequences will be difficult to predict.

    1. From the rule of things development, everything has both pros and cons. The hidden danger of environmental safety can not conceal the huge economic benefits brought by hydropower stations. Of course the projects which will seriously damage the ecological environment must be resolutely resisted. It need to be noted that there is no clear line between the hidden danger and the clear damage, but the hidden danger is even less noticeable. From this point of view, hydropower stations must undergo rigorous theoretical research and field investigation before they can be constructed and built. Otherwise, the consequences will be difficult to predict.

  9. In terms of utilitarianism, the construction of a hydropower station can indeed make most people happy (this is the most important). However, for individuals, not all residents’ well-being will be boosted by the construction of the hydropower station. As stated in the article, “residents, archaeologists, shipping company operators, and downstream fishermen and farmers” will be frustrated by the hydropower station because of their The benefits are deprived. To add that, immigrants forced to migrate during the construction of a hydropower station are also the ones whose interests have been damaged.

  10. The site selection of hydropower station needs more stringent assessment criteria.
    For the ecosystem of a river, the environmental damage caused by hydropower station is immeasurable.But as one of the most reliable sources of electricity, hydropower development is essential.Then how to develop hydropower is the most critical problem. It is necessary to pay attention to the close relationship among hydrological environment, aquatic species and their reproduction modes, the coastal vegetation, coast residents and cultural construction.

    1. The early development of hydropower was unreasonable without a series of thoughtful consideration, cause it failed to take into account the unrecoverable destruction of the environment into account.
      But on the other hand the development of hydropower is very necessary, especially in those areas with more rivers.The stability and durability of hydropower stations is unmatched by other forms of power generation, and there is no more problem of fuel consumption and air pollution.As a very low carbon option of electricity generating, hydropower stations has equally capablity of generatiion.Sufficient quantity of electricity can guarantee the continuous development of economy and social progress especially for a developing country.

  11. Although hydroelectric plants have a lot of advantages, they also contain many drawbacks. It is hard to find the balance, so if the drawbacks can not be eliminated, is it necessary to build plants

  12. Many facts have proven that hydropower leads to a series of problems, and environmental protection organizations have strong oppositions, but we have to know that it play a important role in our life, so as an engineer how can he or she get rid of moral dilemmas

  13. The construction of hydropower will influence a lot of local people, and it hard for them to get direct interests, though the majority can get benefits, from this point of view, is this decision moral or not?

  14. In my opinion, the benefits of water projects are obvious. First, the time allocation of water resources is adjusted, water is stored during the rainy season, and water is discharged during the dry season. People in the reservoir area no longer worry about water shortages. Can irrigate the surrounding fields, the reservoir can engage in breeding, increase farmers’ income. Third, compared with hydropower, hydroelectric power is clean and pollution-free. Water is a renewable resource that can be reused.

  15. good and interesting article,
    however if the advantages and disadvantages of the power plan you can see, is there any other power plan that we can use and suitable in the future better than that?

  16. If we do not develop hydropower, we certainly will need to find alternative methods of power generation. The most common is thermal power, but it will result in air pollution, and this problem does not exist in hydroelectric power, it is the biggest advantage of hydroelectric power. But  the destruction of the surrounding ecological balance resulted from the construction of hydropower station also not allow to be ignored. Compare with the control for ecological damage, pollution of coal-fired power is more likely to be controlled even harmless by the human. Therefore, hydraulic power station should be given full consideration for the surrounding ecological balance before being constructed. We must consider whether we can accept the damage from the construction of hydraulic power station , and consider the feasibility of the construction of hydropower station.

  17. This science article is slightly boring, but the content is still valuable. I think that the construction of a hydroelectric power station can achieve safe and low risk as long as scientific site selection, detailed exploration, correct design, correct construction, and humane management coordination. The impact on the ecological environment, natural environment and human environment mentioned in the article is insignificant or even completely avoidable. The objections in the article are somewhat overly concerned.

    Besides that, as the article says, a large amount of available electricity can provide a lot of productivity, and utilitarianism is the choice of most people. Even considering the Kantian theory, the construction of hydropower station is also needed (it states that the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty). Because the most important duty for people in underdeveloped areas is to develop.

  18. I agree that the benefits of water projects are obvious. In my view, water power offers a number of advantages to the communities that they serve. Hydropower is fueled by water, so it’s a clean fuel source, meaning it won’t pollute the air like power plants that burn fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas.In addition to a sustainable fuel source, hydropower efforts produce a number of benefits, such as flood control, irrigation, and water supply. Building hydropower stations can absolutely helps to make use of hydropower and reduce the pollution.

  19. I think the benefits of building a hydropower station:
    First, establish a safeguard system for flood control and disaster mitigation and improve flood and drought protection.
    Second, establish a basic guarantee system for farmland and water conservancy, and improve the new rural function of water conservancy services.
    Third, establish a water ecological environment protection system to improve the sustainable development of water resources.
    Fourth, establish a security system for water resources and improve the harmonious development of people and water.
    V. Establish a security system for water energy use and improve the function of water conservation and energy security.
    6. Establish a mechanism guarantee system to improve the comprehensive development function of water conservancy.

    Possible hazards of building a hydropower station:
    1. Destroying the ecological environment, intensifying erosion under the dam, causing changes in the river and its impact on plants and animals.
    2. To increase the river water level of the tributaries, affecting some residents and requiring the relocation of residents.
    3. In regions with large changes in precipitation season, there will be little or no power generation during the rainy season.
    4, the downstream fertile alluvial soil reduction.
    5. Geologically unstable areas may have some sediment and pebbles rushing into the river, causing soil erosion.

  20. Power generation is necessary for our life, if we do not build hydropower, we still need other stations for energy. Considering the influence to the environment of other choices such as thermal power, hydropower is the best choice that has less destruction to the envrionment and cost less. Although there may be effect to ecological balance and architecture culture, the influence can be reduce to the least by selecting a suitable location and controling the size of hydropower, and developing hydropower is still a good choice for our need.

  21. I noticed that your group did not mention one controversial
    issue, that is the relationship between the dam and earthquake. There are some cases about the dam led to earthquake, many people dead from earthquake. In China, a lot of research that focused on the relationship between hydropower station and earthquake appeared after the ‘Wenchuan’ 8.0 earthquake which was very severe in China or even in the whole world. Many residents just worried about this kind things. I suggest before you talk about one thing, you should really think about what the people really care about.

  22. You mentioned, ‘Based on the utilitarian framework… According to the data, the cost of electricity which is generated by hydropower stations is US$0.10 kWh−1, as low as the current electricity generation cost by thermal plants and low-cost wind turbines, so it can be commercialized’. I doubt this. According an article, I find that the energy efficiency of hydro-electric power stations will be impacted by many conditions, such as the river proximity, location of the station, and the cost structure. So it is necessary to consider the specific environment when you want to plant a dam!

  23. What about the duty ethics in the construction of hydropower station?
    For those large scale project leads by the government, at least it is legal. Meanwhile, hen talking about the stakeholders,I noticed that you have not pay attention to the taxpayers. Is it necessary to list the specific number of people who are take benefit from the construction and those who are harmed by it for instant?

    1. Sorry I mean for instance in the last reply.
      The policy of the resident relocation is another thing to notice. Such as part of them will be gather to build a new town with new infrastructure, which is not that convenience espicially compared to those be moved to the mature developed city. In that case it is not fair to part of the resident. How can these problem being solved?

  24. According to the theory of utilitarianism, planting a hydropower station is the best choice for many areas. In many developing countries or regions, they have to wear face mask when they go out to filter uncleaned air to avoid severe disease of respiratory system. So for this kind of country, the urgent thing is to find a clean and high-efficiency energy to instead thermal power. As mentioned in this article, hydropower energy is more effective than other kinds of energy. So hydropower station should be planted!

  25. The construction do meet most people’s interest, when it comes to the potential risk of the plant, according to the exsiting experience of theose hydropower station, they are not that serious and irreversible. The environment protection is essential indeed, but after all, when it is an A or B choice, there will always be someone whose interests will be harmed.

  26. As this group said, hydropower station has many advantages compared to other kinds of energy, but it also has some disadvantages. If we can plant a hydropower station and avoid its weakness at the same time, then this will be the best way. But how to do it? I am not sure if my suggestion is right. I noticed that most disadvantages your group mentioned are only caused by large scale hydropower station. For example, the bad influence on natural: fish cannot migrate to upstream spawning grounds through dams which may lead to an aquatic organism extinction. So why not to plant some small or mini hydropower stations instead of one large station? I remember when I traveled in Europe, I saw many mini dam just around residential area. So in this way, not only the ecosystem will not be affected, but also the residents!

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