Fossil fuel reserves have become seriously depleted but conversely our energy use is increasing year on year, our fossil fuel use is now far from being sustainable. Fossil fuels are also responsible for global warming because of the carbon dioxide that is produced with the use of coal power stations and other fossil fuel power stations. In order to stop a further decline in the environment and to replace non-renewable energy many different alternative power sources are being researched and implemented. One such renewable energy source is hydro energy and involves using water to turn turbines, which in turn generates electricity creating hydro energy. The theory is very similar to that of wind energy but instead of the wind turning the sails we use flowing water.
A brief history of hydropower.
The first ever water power station was in Godalming, England in 1881 introducing hydropower as a source of electricity. Previously water turbines had only been used for pumping and irrigation but that has changed significantly now. While some countries have yet to hydro power stations that are efficient and make any significant difference to their energy usage, New Zealand among other countries produce over 70% of its energy from hydro power stations.
Dams are built in order to create a man made waterfall; as the water falls it rotates a turbine thus converting the kinetic energy into a usable mechanical energy. This is then turned into electrical energy through the use of a generator. The amount of electricity is determined by how far the water falls and the average water flow; some dams provide enough power for up to 10,000 people so it really is an effective form of creating energy for our homes.
It's highly unlikely that you have a good enough source of running water running through your land that you could feasibly build a dam and add a generator and a turbine but even a small dam in a reasonable river can provide a good amount of energy for local residents. A dam with a 10 foot drop and average water flow of 500 cubic feet per second produces enough power to give approximately 3,000,000kwh per annum; almost enough power for 1000 residents.
The downfall of dams.
Like many sources of green energy, hydro energy has its downfalls; although there is only really one downfall for hydro energy. The major obstacle to building dams and creating hydropower is people. Local residents don't want dams erected in the middle of their local beauty spot so unless the opinions of these people can be turned hydropower won't be as popular as wind energy or solar energy.
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