TOPIC 'Renewable Energy' on Jan 24, 2012 (CST)
Using Hydrokinetic Energy
In today’s world, protection of the environment has become a very important issue. Most people agree that something needs to be done to prevent any further destruction of the planet we call home. One means of doing this is to make use of renewable energy. Rather than relying on coal, oil or other non-renewable products to fill the United States’ energy needs, renewable energy sources should take their place as much as possible. Water is the most abundant natural resource on the earth, but scientists and engineers have only recently begun to look at alternative ways of using it for power.
Most people are familiar with hydroelectric plants. These make use of dams to create water pressure that is then converted to electricity. Dams are costly and have many negative effects on the environment at and around the plant site.
However, there is now an improved means of using water to produce electricity that is much less harmful to the environment. This is called hydrokinetic energy.
Hydrokinetic energy is produced by using water currents, whether in a river, stream or even the ocean, to turn underwater turbines. These turbines convert the kinetic energy in the moving water to electrical energy. It is very similar to the electrical energy produced by wind turbines.
There are many advantages to this type of system. Unlike hydroelectric plants using large dams, the hydrokinetic turbines are much smaller. Instead of being constructed on the riverbed itself, they are suspended from floating rafts or barges. This assures that nothing will affect the streambeds, riverbeds or seabeds. In addition, studies have shown that due to the very slow movement of the turbines, the impact on the underwater environment is minimal.
Using hydrokinetic energy together with existing hydroelectric plants promises to be a good combination. The hydrokinetic turbines can be placed in the area of currents that are found within the spillway of a dam such as the Hoover Dam. Since the power transmission plant already exists, there is minimal expense to connect this additional source of energy to the plant.
Taking care of our planet should be high on everyone’s agenda, whether they help in big ways or small ways. Water is the greatest resource on the Earth, and we now have the means to produce the energy we need without further damaging the environment. Due to its ease of use, hydrokinetic energy may be the energy source of the near future.