Clean Energy from Flowing Waters
The flowing waters in the rivers and tidal waves can be a good source of alternative energy. With 70% of the earth’s surface covered with water, a great amount of energy can be produced by placing turbines at strategic locations under strong currents. This method of generating electric power is called hydrokinetic power generation. In fact, plans are under way to install 875 submerged turbines inside the Niagara river.
Similarly, the US Department of Energy is charting out plans to harness the tremendous amount of energy trapped in ocean waves, tides and currents.
A great thing about producing energy from flowing water is that it can be accomplished without having to first construct dams, impoundments or conduits. Big dams are generally monumental ecological, and in some regions, cultural and social disasters. Dams and other contemporary hydropower technologies stop the free flow of the water bodies, change their directions, and irreversibly destroy river and marine lives. Although some people argue that they are still better than burning fossil fuel to generate power.
Wave power devices extract energy directly from pressure fluctuations below the water surface or from surface waves themselves. According to renewable energy analysts there is enough energy in the ocean waves to provide around two trillion watts of electricity.
Of course this technology comes with its own baggage of environmental side effects. Potential environmental impacts on marine habitat and alterations in the seafloor cast a shade on the enthusiasm. Then there is always a danger of toxic releases and accidental spills of liquids applied in systems using hydraulic fluids technology. Very few people are talking about the repercussions on the flora and fauna of the water bodies where such machines will be installed.