Category Archives: Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric – the Colorado River and Hoover Dam

The Colorado River and Hoover Dam are examples of the powers this renewable energy source may one day harness when electricity is not very often mentioned. At times it appears as though there is the concern any kind of energy sourcing which incorporates the nation’s major waterways and also national treasures is off limits. This is a long standing practice which thus far has protected much of the natural beauty that is the US.

Granted, environmental impact is a very serious concern when discussing the production of electricity such as hydroelectric - the Colorado River and Hoover Dam are homes to some of the most beloved and unique wildlife in the nation. But, the advantage most certainly does outweigh the concerns. This is especially true if the environmental impact can be minimized.

Green collar jobs being generated at this time hope to change the view of the public on energy that is hydroelectric - the Colorado River and Hoover Dam may become proving grounds. With grant monies allocated from federal and state budgets, there is little doubt that this discussion will soon move front and center into the American mainstream. In the course of these discussions, it is the hope of everyone involved nature will remain pristine.

Geothermal and Hydro Electric Energy

No discussion of renewable energy would be complete without paying some attention to the bystanders sometimes left out of the discussions: geothermal and hydro electric energy.

Although they are not considered to be of serious impact at this stage, they do present energy options for localized communities who might wish to subsidize their power grid with another source of readily available energy that lessens their dependence on the main form of energy.

The feasibility of geothermal energy has been explored since the early 1900s. By and large it relies on the utilization of heat that is found beneath the earth for all energy needs aboveground. At this point in time the application for geothermal heat is primarily for localized use and not for large scale energy production.

Environmentalists believe that the release of steam byproducts does have a lasting impact on the environment – although not nearly as dire as the current emissions caused by the generation and use of fossil fuels.

Hydro electric energy, on the other hand, is found to be by far more useful when it comes to renewable energy. After all, there is plenty of water found on the earth and there is little chance of running out of this fuel any time soon.

Currently it is this form of renewable energy that makes up the lion’s share of all the renewable energy current used around the world. Geothermal and hydro electric energy are valid contenders in the search for a new primary energy source, but at this point it looks as though solar power is beating both of them.

The Top Four Renewable Power Options

Renewable Energy is energy created from resources that are regenerative - or renewable - meaning they cannot be depleted. These resources are safe for our environment and produce energy without the harmful pollutants and emissions associated with fossil-fuels.

Renewable energy utilizes natural cycles and systems such as sunlight, wind, tides, and geothermal heat to create energy in a form ready for human consumption. These sources differ from fossil fuels in that they can be replenished, and their use produces little, if any, greenhouse gases.

Renewable energy is not that cheap compared to conventional fossil fuel generating plants. The only real alternative to fossil fuels is nuclear energy. Renewable energy is naturally intermittent. Hydrogen provides a means to store renewable energy for times when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow.

BioFuels

Biofuel is solid, liquid, or gas fuel made from recently dead biological material, most commonly plants. Biofuel can be theoretically produced from any organic carbon source. The most common by far is photosynthetic plants that capture solar energy. Many different plants and plant-derived materials are used for biofuels. The most widely recognized agri-fuel is corn, used to create ethanol.

Biomass energy is generated by the decay of large masses of plant or animal material or waste which forms methane and other combustible gases. These gases contain chemical energy, which when burned can be used to generate electricity.

Biomass and other combustible renewables and waste account for 11 percent, and nuclear energy accounts for 6.8 percent. Biomass, or the use of biologically derived materials for energy generation, is also considered a renewable-energy source and is carbon-neutral. Agricultural wastes are currently being explored as potential biomass feedstock.

Biomass pyrolysis gas and methane can be burned in reciprocating or gas turbine engines and the heat output readily integrated. Biodiesel and Ethanol production facilities can also become more feasible with integration into this system. The contributions from biofuels are expected to nearly quadruple, growing from 0.5 quads in 2006 to 1.87 quads in 2030.

Hydro

The power of moving water, generated by gravity, whether from damns or tidal waves, can also be considered a renewable resource. Hydro (moving water) accounts for 2.3 percent with all other renewable resources meeting .5 (five-tenths) of a percent of the world's total energy appetite.

Solar

Solar is the most popular renewable energy source in the USA. Solar electric (PV) systems typically do not require maintenance, other than periodic cleaning of the solar panels. PV panel life is typically 25 years. There are a variety of technologies that have been developed to take advantage of solar energy. These include concentrating solar power systems, passive solar heating and daylighting, photovoltaic systems, solar hot water, and solar process heat and space heating and cooling.

Wind

Wind turbines are usually constructed in the windiest areas, although there are many locations throughout the United States and the rest of the world that are suitable for wind power production. Wind energy is an intermittent source since wind does not blow at consistent speeds and times. Wind turbines use blades to collect the wind's kinetic energy. The wind flows over the airfoil shaped blades causing lift, like the effect on airplane wings, triggering them to turn.

The shortfall in the world’s energy needs can only be made up by renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal, along with the other non-fossil, non-renewable fuel sources of energy, nuclear.

However, renewable energy sources will be unable to satisfy the predicted increased energy needs and certainly will not be able to replace fossil fuels entirely, even for electricity production alone.