Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 24

Clean Energy from Flowing Waters

Posted in Hydro Power | Tidal Power | Wave Power

Clean Energy Water 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.

  • Bob Wallace

    “HYDRO SAFE ® OIL DIVISION INC. markets environmentally friendly hydraulic oil to industry with ISO Grades 32, 46, 46FR, and 68FR. Fluids are readily and totally biodegradable, and non-toxic. Base fluid is canola (rapeseed) oil, a renewable resource.”

    These devices will be turning *with* the current and not creating suction as do boat props. This makes them safer for marine life. And they can be run at fairly slow RPMs, not spinning like props.

  • Jeff Grunschel

    What bothers me about these so called “free” energy sources is the loss of energy from the energy sources (i.e., wind patterns and/or ocean currents). If we install wave energy systems to harness the power of waves, what will happen to the ocean currents? Or, if we install wind turbines in an area with high winds, what will happen to the wind after the turbines? Depending on the efficiency and number of turbines, the wind could be lacking some serious energy. What will happen to the weather?

    I think the public and media need more education on energy balances and the effects of utilizing these “green” energy sources.

  • Eben

    The ocean is quite large 🙂 so a couple of turbines should not affect the gulf or agulhas streams, one will have to look at the percentage space occupied and if that is small it should not have a significant influence. I am how ever concerned about wave energy because the units generating the energy is quite large and should therefore not be place on the beach front but rather some distance away. It might also have an effect on corral reefs. In the end we will have balance the utilization of different alternative methods to minimize the impact.

  • Boneheaded1

    Change the wind patterns and currents? Are you kidding? While energy will be removed from the environment it will be extremely localized. Also, none of these technologies extract 100% of the energy; there is still energy remaining. For wind patterns and currents to change it would take MASSIVE “farms” of these energy “harvesters” and that’s if they are even capable of creating that kind of havoc.

    What we need is diversity of the green/renewable energy plan. Solar, wave, wind, geo-thermal, and bio-fuels should all be a part of the mix. There should not be one dominant technology. This is something we should learn from the dominance of fossil fuels. That way, if one should prove damaging we can move quickly, alternatives are already in place and we would lose only a portion of our output. This would also help alleviate any worries of some far-fatched global disaster scenario. Or maybe we should just stick with the fossil fuel plan, no doomsday scenario there.

  • Crossfit Junkie

    The wind turbines set up on Eastern Canada (on Prince Edward Island) are proving to be a successful ‘green’ alternative to traditional methods of power. I suggest that we try the ‘wave’ technology as an even more successful method of harnessing power. The waves off Eastern Prince Edward Island are fairly dense, high, long, forceful for 3 seasons of the year. I haven’t read enough yet to comment on the financial cost savings but environmentally – it’s a definite go in my books.

    Valerie Stewart

  • Ken

    Is it posible get power energy just from the flow(only) of water instead of wind-generator?
    Since we known well the water flow can be clean, stable, controllable & easier than the wind.

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