Hydropower: An Alternative Energy Source

Much like solar and wind power, hydropower has been a constant energy source for man. Following is an overview of hydropower.

Hydropower can be defined simply as using the energy of flowing water to generate power. With early man, this power was experienced in the form of propulsion as in moving wheels to grind food materials. With modern man, hydropower is used to turn turbines that produce electricity. In cases such as the Three Gorges Dam in China, this platform can be the basis of providing huge amounts of energy to countries in need.

A Hydropower Timeline

Let’s take a look at an overview of developments in hydropower:

Over 2,000 years ago, hydropower was used by the Greeks to turn grinding wheels to turn wheat into flour.

In the 1770s, French engineer Bernard Forest de Bélidor wrote Architecture Hydraulique, a four-volume series detailing mechanisms that could be used to convert flowing water into power.

1880 – Michigan’s Grand Rapids Electric Light and Power Company showcased the first commercial application for electricity generated from hydropower. The company used a turbine to provide power to a whopping 16 lamps at the Wolverine Chair Factory.

1881 – Niagara Falls votes to convert all lamps on streets to electricity provided by hydropower, which made sense considering their location.

1882 – The first power plant devoted entirely to hydropower electricity production goes online in Wisconsin. The power is produced from water in the Fox River.

1886 – Hydropower plants are so popular that over 40 are functioning in Canada and the U.S.

1889 – Only three years later, the number of hydropower plants in the two countries grows to 200.

1907 – Hydro plants produce 15 percent of the electrical power needs of the United States.

1920 – Hydro plants produce 25 percent of the electrical power needs of the United States.

1933 – Hydropower comes to the forefront with the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

1940 – Hydro plants provide a whopping forty percent of all electricity produced in the United States.

2003 – At the turn of the century, hydropower has lost much of its allure. Population growth results in power needs so high that hydropower is not viewed as a solution. Environmental issues also cause a slow down. Only ten percent of the electricity in the U.S. is produced by hydropower.

Hydropower Today

Today, roughly twenty percent of all the electricity in the world is produced through hydroelectric power plants. The largest producer of electricity through water is Canada followed by the United States, Russia, Brazil and China. Egypt is highly dependent on this energy source via the Nasser Dam. Norway produces nearly all of its electricity needs through hydropower. In many other countries, it is also being looked to as the solution for growing energy needs.

This energy source has definite downsides. It can be unreliable in countries that suffer droughts, as many African nations have learned. The environmental impact of large dams, as seen with the three gorges dam in China, is also a concern. Notwithstanding these concerns, it is a proven renewable energy platform that certainly is better than fossil fuel alternatives.

Wind Energy Benefits

Wind energy is one of the cleanest, if not cleanest, renewable energy sources available to us. What most people don’t know is it is also the fastest growing energy sector.

Wind is an indirect version of solar power. Different surfaces on the Earth react differently to being hit by sunlight, particular in regards to heat. As sunlight heats up surfaces, they warm up at different rates. The surround air also warms up at different rates, fertilizing the wind process. Temperatures over a body of water like a lake will always be cooler than temperatures over rocky ground. Hot air rises and cool air rushes into fill such voids. As this process occurs, the rushing air manifests as wind and an incredibly cheap and clean energy source.

Using the wind to harness energy from our environment is hardly a new concept. Ancient Persians are believed to have been the first group to use windmills to turn grain grinding machines. The Dutch, of course, are also famous for their windmills and so on. In modern days, however, wind energy platforms are much more refined and used primarily for energy production.

There are a number of reasons why wind power is part of our energy solution. First, it produces no pollution or greenhouse gases. Second, it is renewable and will last for as long as our son – about another four billion years. Third, wind energy is available in practically any country, which means no reliance on foreign sources. Fourth, wind power produces more jobs per watt produced than all other energy platforms, including oil and coal.

Wind Energy Growth

Wind power is growing in use and popularity in places such as Germany and China. In the United States, California has three large wind farms that are used to provide power during massive energy use periods in the summer. The process is viable, but we must accept it and pursue better technology to wring the most out of the huffing and puffing of Mother Nature.

To get energy from wind, we must focus on a concept known as kinetic energy. Do to micro-climate situations, wind is produced fairly readily in a natural process. The sun heats the ground, but does so at different rates. In areas where the ground is heated faster, the air rises as temperatures go up. Air from cooler surrounding areas then rushes in to fill the gap. We then convert it into usable electricity by catching it with wind turbines. The wind is caught by the blades of a spinner, which turns, cranks a generator and electricity is produced. This process is natural and simple, but produces a monstrous amount of energy. If we could harness all the wind in the world, we would have more than 10 times the amount of energy we need for the entire globe. Of course, harnessing it is the problem.

The sole fact that there is enough power produced by wind energy to handle a city the size of Chicago is pretty impressive. As we move into the 21st century, new technology is heading in the direction of creating wind energy platforms for individual residences.

Alternative Energy Sources

Because of expanding worldwide vitality utilization and the likely consumption of the world’s non-sustainable power source, methods for investigating and utilizing elective vitality sources are being embraced. Utilizing alternative energy sources can be both advantageous and troublesome. Give us a chance to investigate the diverse advantages and disadvantages of elective vitality source.

A noteworthy favorable position of sustainable power source is that it is inexhaustible in this way it is supportable and will never run out. All the more vitally sustainable power source delivers practically no waste items that may dirty or effectsly affects the earth.

A few nations utilizing sustainable power source as another wellspring of vitality are additionally demonstrating some monetary advantages particularly in numerous local territories. The vast majority of their undertakings are found far from the urban focuses and capital urban communities. They could expand the utilization of neighborhood benefits and in addition tourism.

General detriment of utilizing sustainable power source is that it is hard to produce expansive amounts of power like that of customary petroleum products. Another normal issue among elective vitality sources is the unwavering quality of the vitality supply. Since it is normally produced, sustainable power source supply depends on the climate condition.

Another downside or weakness of elective vitality source is that it is moderately more costly to set up the hardware essential for creating the vitality.

Alternative Sources of Energy: Pros and Cons

Here are the few favorable circumstances and weaknesses of alternative energy sources.

Solar energy from the sun is an extraordinary wellspring of vitality since it is free and is productive. It is conceivable to augment the vitality given by the sun to supplant conventional power. In any case, there are constraints, similar to regions at high scope and spots with visit downpours are places not fit for delivering proficient sun based vitality.

Wind energy is additionally an effective power source. It is conceivable that breeze vitality can supplant up to 20 percent of the aggregate electric utilization later on. Area is a vital factor in utilizing wind vitality, high scopes and drift lines are great spots to set up windmills. A generally enormous land zone is likewise expected to set up adequate number of windmills.

Hydroelectric and tidal vitality both of these vitality originate from water. With hydroelectric vitality it is fundamentally sourced from dams. Tidal vitality, then again, utilizes the characteristic tides of the sea. Generation of vitality from water is another perfect method for creating vitality. However there are a few detriments. Setting up stream dams as wellsprings of hydroelectric vitality is extremely costly. Although, tidal vitality source depends much on the sea. Since seas keeps an eye on flighty there are just 9 places worldwide that are appropriate for this sort of vitality source. Furthermore, tidal vitality control plants are likewise said to give negative consequences for the transient winged animals and the fishes.

Biomass-biomass comprises of matured creature squander, horticultural yields, grains and other normal items. It can be utilized to create a liquor and furthermore supplant fuel needs. It boosts squander materials as an elective vitality source. A downside, it that despite everything it produces ozone harming substance.

Solar Power: Which Countries are Leading the Way?

The US is not a leading user of solar power for a very obvious reason: they can still afford to buy fossil fuels from the international market. In other countries the oil prices are ten times higher in the US and sometimes going for the alternative is a lot better in the long run. Today, more and more countries are looking at solar energy as a primary source of power. There are several countries which can be considered as at the helm of solar energy technology.

Solar power is the power extracted from the sun’s energy, which is the sunlight. As the sun provides us sunlight for free, solar power itself too is a renewable, clean and environment friendly source of energy. With rising concerns about depleting fossil fuels and rise in air pollution, the use of solar power as an alternative source of energy is fast gaining popularity. By harnessing and using solar power at home, it is possible to cut down the cost of power bills and extensive use can even make one totally independent in terms of power requirement. This is mainly because sunlight is available for free almost round the year and the best part is that solar panels and other such solar equipments require little maintenance.

The number one use of solar energy is Germany. It captures almost 50% of the world market of photovoltaic cells. Nowhere else in the world can you find the most number of households with solarpanels installed on their roof tops. Germany has this Renewable Energies Laws (EEG) which passed in 2000. The law certainly helped Germans feel the need to go renewable.

According to statistics, Germans invested nearly US$5 billion in solar photovoltaic systems and have contributed considerable in the growth of the solar energy market. Although most of the things that we see are solar panels, it doesn’t mean that Germany’s solar industry is not limited to the production of photovoltaic cells for electricity. Other notable usage in Germany includes solar panels for home water heating system. Some news indicate that the German solar hot water market earns fU.S.$1.5 billion per year.

At the Forefront of Solar Power

The “solar park” in Arnstein, Bavaria, Germany is one of the biggest photovoltaic plants in the world. It became operational in 2006 and with more than 1,400 PV solar panels, it can produce 12 megawatts of energy.

But now, one million dollar question arises- that is why, in spite of so many benefits, are people using solarpower only sparingly? The answer to this question lies in the fact that the solar powers are largely inefficient. To counter this problem, bigger panels have to be installed and this makes using them cumbersome. Also, some people prefer not to mess with the aesthetic beauty of their houses. Also, the solar panels do not come very cheaply. Moreover, there is the inherent problem of unable to work at night and providing very little power during cloudy days.

Following Germany, the next biggest country in terms of usage of solar energy is Spain. The solar energy usage in the country, more specifically the photovoltaic cells usage, has a world market share of 27%. Spain has no sign of slowing down its aggressive and pro-active approach in solar energy. Solar fields are being constructed one of the latest ones is the 60 MW solar field in Olmedilla de Alarcón, near Cuenca.

The rest of the world will soon follow Germany and Spain. Japan and the US still have a market share in the photovoltaic world market. The two countries both have an 8% market share, a far cry from Germany and Spain. Nevertheless, it is quite important that countries continue to improve their status in the world solarmarket.

Solar Energy and Everyday Uses

In today’s world, a very popular alternative energy source is solar power. Sunlight can be converted into energy with the use of solar power systems. The ways to generate energy vary and different methods are being followed to meet the needs of people everyday. Can you imagine living one day without electricity? That’ll be very hard and unpleasant.

In the past couple of years, people have talked about solar power and you can see a wealth of information online. The reasons why people became suddenly interested in solar energy is because of the ever increasing electric bills, depletion of fossil fuel reserves, and the environmental problems (i.e. global warming, the hole in the ozone layer, etc.).

Solar energy is an important advance in the effort to save the environment. Perhaps the most easily usable and most convenient of the renewable energy sources (which also include wind and water), solarenergy has been used since the beginning of time as a heating source. In the 1830’s one of the other solarenergy platforms was developed, as a solar energy cooker was used on a safari. Since then, many other solar energy applications have been formulated, and almost everyone can take advantage of one of these.

Uses for Solar Energy

One of the most common of the solar energy application is to use it as a power source. Since the 1970’s, many people have been putting solar collectors on their roofs and using the resulting collected power to run their households. While having enough solar collectors to obtain power that will run an entire house may not be common, it is becoming more so.

Most of these types of solar powered homes run their appliances and other needs directly off the solar collectors’ power during the day, and use power that was stored from the solar cells in batteries at night. In this way, the homeowner can avoid ever having to use power that was generated by a non-renewable resource.

Another of the common solar energy applications is to use solar power to heat your hot water. These systems can either use passive solar energy (in the case of heating a tank of water by leaving it out in the sun) or by using solar collectors with a heat transfer fluid. These systems require the homeowner to install solar panels, behind which run tubes filled with fluid. These tubes collect the heat from the sun and transfer it into the fluid. These tubes, filled with the heated fluid, then run around a water storage system. Then, the heat from the fluid is transferred into the water.

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Another way is to have water running through the tubing and have it obtain the sun’s heat directly. This heated water is then pumped into swimming pools, so that pool owners don’t need to run a pool heater to keep their water warm. Solar power has many uses and it is not just limited for home or office use.

Discover other ways to use solar power. Use it now to help address the three concerns mentioned earlier.