When it comes to searching for alternative ways of generating energy for the ever-increasing demand of our world, it seems some people and companies will come up with the wildest and most innovative ideas ever. Tidal energy is just that though, innovative and a potential answer to the future of clean renewable energy.
Hydropower is a renewable energy source generated from the force of moving water. Mechanical energy is created from water which is forced through piping. This tried and true energy source has been used for centuries. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that about 73 percent of all renewable energy in the country is derived from hydropower. What makes this source of energy so dynamic that its use has survived for so long and is being used so much today?
Oceans cover about 70% of Earth's surface. We use them as a source of transportation, food, and fun. Now we may be able to use them for a source of renewable energy too. The energy from waves is created by motion on the surface as well as the pressure changes below. Only some areas of the oceans are an effective source of power and scientists believe the area off the northwestern coast of the United States alone could provide a potential 2,000 terawatts of electricity. The oceans are in a constant state of motion and many scientists believe we can capture this massive energy to power our society.
One of the biggest advantages of a hydroelectric plant is that it uses renewable resources - water - that is replenished every time it rains or snows. With a majority of these plants resulting from damming rivers, they can also be used for flood control and regulating the water supply. The lakes formed can also be used for recreation.
To many the sound of water cascading over a waterfall is a soothing sound producing relaxation. To the operators of electric generating plants, water going over a dam can be the sound of dollar signs. Water wheels were first used by the Greeks to grind wheat into flour over 2,000 years ago. This simple machine was used for many purposes and in the late 1800's the first hydroelectric power plant was built on the Niagara River.
As of 2010, hydroelectric energy covers 3.4% of all the energy production shares worldwide. Though this is practically miniscule compared to non-renewable energy shares (81%), this is significantly higher than the combined shares of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy (0.7%). One reason why hydroelectric energy is more accepted today is that it is a technology that was developed even before the development of a global-scale infrastructure for oil and coal.
Hydroelectric energy is considered as one of renewable types of energy that is potentially infinite. The prospect of building a hydroelectric power plant is always boundlessly stretched into the future, and the only requirement to keep it running is to maintain the components that make up the generators and turbines. In fact, hydroelectric energy is so efficient, that some countries that have sufficient natural spots to install hydroelectric power plants, like Austria and Iceland, rely solely on this type of energy, without needing oil or coal to generate electricity for their cities and communities.