Hydropower as a Clean Energy Platform

With carbon fuels under supply stress, hydropower presents one functional clean energy alternative. Here is an overview of hydropower and its practical application in modern society.

There are many different types of alternative energy available today. From solar panels to wind turbines to geothermal energy sources, the renewable energy field is exploding. Nations throughout the world are also coming up with their own ways of reducing usage of polluting and traditional energy sources, with clean hydro energy being a popular solution. Using water as an energy source has been around for ages. With the addition of modern technology, it has become a more efficient and useful resource for generating power for a hungry world.

Hydropower generates about 20 percent of the electricity generated in the world, making it the most widely used alternative energy source on Earth. In the United States, hydropower accounts for about 10 percent of the total electricity produced, which means the US produces the second highest amount of hydropower in the world after Canada. Norway, however, has both countries beat. Although it does not produce as much hydropower as it is a much smaller country, 99 percent of the electricity in the country is produced via clean hydro energy production. Another contender in the world’s best usage of hydropower contest is New Zealand, which produces 75 percent of the electricity in the country via clean hydro energy. Countries such as Brazil and Egypt are also heavily reliant on hydropower.

In the United States, 28 million homes are powered by electricity generated by hydropower. Unfortunately, only 2,400 of the 80,000 water dams in the country are being used to produce electricity. This is a rather alarming fact. If more of the dams were put to use creating power, we would be far less reliant on expensive, polluting, non-renewable carbon fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. One can surmise that the process of converting the dams to hydropower production would be expensive, but the rising price of oil may soon make it a viable option.

Hydropower is a major player in the energy game. Frankly, it should be used even more where possible. Currently, the energy produced via hydropower production replaces the use of 22 billion gallons of oil each year. That is a significant number, but more may be about to come.

Although not a form of traditional hydropower, many are now looking to produce electricity from the oceans. Much like traditional dam turbines, companies and nations are now investigating if it is possible to put turbines in the ocean that are turned via moving currents and tides. The idea is fairly new, so a practical application is unlikely in the very near future. Nonetheless, if the process can be worked out, the energy worries will be greatly alleviated given the massive amount of energy in the ocean.

Compared to carbon fuels, hydropower is a very attractive way to meet our energy demands. Counties such as Norway and New Zealand prove it can be done with the proper planning.

Rick Chapo is with Solar Companies - a directory of solar energy companies. Visit us to read more articles on renewable energy.

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