Water and alternative energy – what a great and winning combination… right? But how does it work? Is it practical and sustainable?
And what’s the deal with alternative energy, anyway? We have a vague idea that these types of enhanced natural resources can save our planet, but we also have heard that alternative energy may have some disadvantages that may not be as talked about as they should be. The fact is alternative energy encompasses a myriad of sub-topics that include wind, geothermal, biofuel, nuclear, and solar energy.
Alternative Energy Water / One of Our Most Precious Resources
For hundreds of years people have been using the power of water for grinding grains into flour, for sawing wood and for many other purposes. When the electricity appeared, it substituted water in many applications. However, the role of water was not diminished.
Nowadays, water remains one of the most significant sources of energy around the globe, which is mainly used to produce electric energy. Furthermore, water represents a renewable source of energy, featuring particular benefits in terms of environmental protection.
Alternative Energy Water / Hydropower
Water energy or hydropower, as it is often called, is the power generated by moving (flowing or falling) water. Very often people build dams on the rivers in order to transform the power of water into electricity. When water falls down from a high dam, it rotates the blades of turbine, which in its turn results in electricity production in the device, called generator.
Then the generated electricity is supplied to the consumers around the country. In fact, about 20% of all electricity, consumed in the world these days, is generated by water. In certain countries, like Norway, virtually all the electricity is produced at the hydroelectric powering plants.
Alternative Energy Water / Quantity & Distance
Speaking about water energy, it is also worthy to mention that the power of water depends on two major factors: the amount of water and the height from which it falls.
The longer distance the water falls and the larger amount of falling water is, the more energy it carries. That is why dams are usually built on large rivers to produce large volumes of energy.
The sizes of hydroelectric dams vary greatly from small-sized dams, which generate electricity only for several houses, and to giant dams, like Hoover Dam or Oroville Dam in the USA with heights of 726 and 770 ft respectively. Such huge dams produce enough electricity to light the large cities, such as Los Angeles.
Alternative Energy Water / Going With the Flow
Along with the power of water in rivers and waterfalls, scientists develop systems to transform the energy of tides and waves into electricity.
Water, flowing in and out of coasts, carries a huge amount of energy and it can also spin turbines to produce electricity. However, making use of tidal water energy is currently not an easy task because of high construction costs and few places, where appropriate plants can be built.
Alternative Energy Water / Pros
The issues, concerning the impact made by water power plants on the environment, still remain highly debatable. The key argument, supporting the use of water for electricity generation, states that water is a free and renewable natural resource.
In fact, it really is, since water is constantly circulating in nature, and for producing electricity we do not use water itself, but only its moving power. Water energy is also an example of clean energy, because no harmful chemicals are released into the air or soil, when water power is turned into electricity. Besides, the economic cost of water-generated energy is pretty low, which makes it a valuable energy source.
Alternative Energy Water / Cons
On the other hand, the use of water power is also associated with certain threats for the environment with its flora and fauna. When dams are built, they change the whole ecological system of the area, creating serious obstacle for fish migration. Besides, dams may cause soil erosion and other changes of the natural balance.
However, to be unbiased enough, it should be mentioned that in recent years much is done to prevent negative influence of hydroelectric power plants on the environment. Even special “fish ladders” have been developed recently to help fish swim upstream and move over the high dams. Therefore, water energy remains a valuable energy source for humans.
Alternative Energy Water / Sources
For more information on the alternative energy follow these links: