Dams - A Source of Sustainable Power

Dams have been around for a century now. Beavers used it, although not for energy and now humans employ it as source for that ingredient in survival: power.


Hydropower generates hydroelectricity. It produces power with the help of gravity. It is the most common alternate source of energy. After the dam (called the hydroelectric complex) is built the complex it produces no waste whatsoever. Hydroelectric power comes from waters potential energy.

Imagine a glass bubble, and you’re in it. When the walls crack water exerts pressure on that one whole until water comes through that tiny gap. It’s the same thing with a dam. The engineers collect the dam’s power by harnessing it with the use of a turbine which then connected to a generator.  In this matter the power extracted from the rushing water depends on the amount of force the water exerts on the turbine and on the difference of the water’s average gravitational pull. The difference between the height and the outflow is called the head

The amount of the water’s potential energy depends on how high the dam is from its outflow. Dams help cities by supplying energy during extremely high demand times and during off peak the turbines pump water into higher reservoirs so that when electricity consumption is high again.

Dams - A Source of Sustainable Power
Dams - A Source of Sustainable Power

Where Is The Power Supplied

Most hydroelectric power plants supply public entities; there are some which are funded by industrial companies for their specific use. Such industries like aluminum electrolytic plants build there own hydroelectric power plants due to their high energy consumption. In fact the world’s largest dam the Coulee Dam, located in Bellingham Washington was switched to support Alcoa Aluminum plant, which at the time was the largest supplier of materials for war planes; afterwards though it was used for public electricity and as a source for irrigation.

There are also small scale hydroelectric power plants, most of them are located in north America. A plant is classified as small scale when it only produces 10- 30 megawatts. These power sources are usually connected to power grids to supply energy to small isolated communities or even to a single family home. In China small hydro schemes are very popular due to a high number of factories wishing to have their own supply of electricity.

Other Common Water Energy Sources

Other common hydro resources are rivers, the ocean, waterfalls and even ponds or lakes. Rivers power plants where in no reservoir can be built are called run-of-the-river-, while the ocean is put into good use because of the tides. A tidal power plant harnesses the energy of the coming and the going of the tides. Uncommon but never the less employed are kinetic energy water plants.

Why It Makes Sense

Economically the use of hydropower is cost effective because our primary source the fossil fuel is expensive and slowly getting used up. Water is of the abundance and most of the time it is free. Granted that dams and other hydroelectric power plants are quite expensive to build, but the pros far out weigh the cons. The operating and maintenance cost of a hydroplant is considerably cheaper than looking for fossil fuel, drilling for it, and refining it to become oil. What’s more a hydroelectric power plant cannot be affected and is not subject to the rise and fall of fuel prices.

Benefits of Green Energy Sources

For a very long time, we have relied on fossil fuels. It provides heat to our homes, gas for our cars and electricity. Since we are now using it more than ever, there is a consequence. We are depleting our resources and slowly killing our planet. Fortunately, we can change our ways and then shift our attention to green energy sources.

But why green energy sources? Well because there are advantages to using them which we will never be able to get if we don’t change our ways. This is also even if some will argue that the problem with green energy is that it is sometimes difficult to generate the power we need. While that may be true, that is why there are other green energy sources  available and we just to know which ones are viable given the geographic location.

Benefits of Green Energy Sources

The various green energy sources such as solar, wind, wave, hydropower and geothermal do not produce anything harmful which may have a negative effect on the environment. This is the exact opposite of what you get when you continue to operate a coal or nuclear power plant.

Coal you have to remember releases carbon dioxide into the air. On its own, it may not cause that much damage but there are currently 50,000 coal plants around the world and that number is expected to grow.

Nuclear plants may not release anything harmful into the air. The issue is how we dispose of the spend rods and if another nuclear accident should occur. We remember Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. We have probably learned better ways to prevent another incident from happening. Through the years, a few minor accidents have occurred and although the leak was contained, just imagine if it wasn’t?

Green energy sources may not be maintenance free but at least it does not require that much to maintain them compared to conventional means. In the end, we save money because such facilities don’t cost that much to operate.

The next advantage of using green energy sources is that we will never run out of them. For centuries, the sun’s rays have reached so has the wind which is blown from the sea. By using it, we decrease our dependence on oil which is a nonrenewable resource.

If you think about it, many of us have taken these green energy sources for granted. If we do the  right thing now, future generations will not have to face the mess that we could have handled on our own years before.

In short, the power is in our hands. We have the technology and we know what to do with it. The only thing we need is to do is to put our money where our mouth is because despite the number of conferences on global warming and climate change, little has happened.

It is easy to talk about how concerned we are about the environment but you have to ask yourself when will more solar panels or wind turbines will be erected? When will the number of coal or nuclear power plants be reduced?

Green energy sources is the solution to the environmental, political and social problems of this lifetime. By spending more on these technologies, no country will have to depend on another or even a corporation for their power needs because they are self dependent and free.


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