Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hydropower - Harnessing Energy From Water‏

by Wes Hamilton

Converting the energy created by the movement of water into useable energy seems like a great idea. The source of the energy, water, is in abundance and it is in most cases free. Since early times man has used water's energy in various ways for their benefit.

Over time as technology has progressed capturing the full potential of water's power has become more and more possible. In the near future water will be used increasingly more. Our society already extensively uses water to power hydro-electric turbines and we use the ocean's waves to create power also. Even though we already use the ocean to create some power, we use very little of it, so that market is still virtually untapped.

The very first uses of hydropower were from watermills and waterwheels and date as far back as the ancient Romans who used them to produce flour, saw timber and cut stone. In Asia and the Far East waterwheels were used to transport water and hydro power was used to transport river traffic up hills. Hydropower was used next to waterfalls to generate mechanical power transmission.

Officially hydropower is the force that the water applies to the riverbed and river banks. It is at its greatest when the river is flooded. This can cause sediment to travel and erosion which can alter the surrounding landscape.

Other forms of hydro power besides waterwheels and water mills include, hydroelectricity, damless hydro, vortex power, tidal power, tidal stream power, wave power, osmotic power, marine current power and ocean thermal energy conversion.

Hydroelectricity is generated from dams with the largest hydroelectric plant being the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. Hydroelectricity can be stopped and started as necessary and it can produce large amounts of energy at low costs. Hydroelectricity is virtually pollution free as it does not produce any carbon dioxide or emissions. It is also much less expensive then burning fossil fuels.

Another form of hydropower is tidal power. Tidal power transforms the energy from the ocean tides into power. This is very effective at spots that have very large tides. As the tide goes in or out it will turn turbines that then generate electricity. Tidal power is very predictable as the tides can be recorded but it is unable to produce the electricity that is needed on a steady basis as it provides bursts of energy. Tidal stream power works in a similar way though this technology is currently being developed.

Wave power has started to be investigated as this type of hydropower would be more consistent than tidal power. Currently there is a prototype of a wave power generator in Australia that has exceeded all the predictions of power conversion during low wave periods. The energy from the wave is captured by an air driven generator and then converted into a usable form of power such as electricity. With a focus on using renewable and environmental energy sources hydropower will benefit from the increase in research money and will produce even more power options in the future.

Wes Hamilton is the owner of PLUMB PRO, INC a full service plumbing company in Alabama. Visit our website for more Free Information and PICTURES. Visit and

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