Power can be harnessed from the energy found in water, which is one of the most common compounds on the entire earth. More than seventy five percent of the earth is covered in water, a substance which is absolutely essential to life. One of science’s major goals is to find water on other planets. There are several different ways to harness the power found in water, including through water wheels and water turbines. Waterwheels were involved with the first water-power harnessing process which was used for cutting stone and lumber mills. Water energy harnessing is essentially attained by converting potential energy into kinetic energy using the power found in the flow of water.
Water energy is a completely renewable energy resource which is primarily harnessed through hydroelectric generation. Water flows through a turbine which is then used in order to drive a generator. The United States takes nearly ten percent of its total power from hydroelectric energy producing plants, making it one of the world leaders in the creation and use of hydroelectric power. Because the price of oil is constantly increasing, more and more consumers are beginning to see and understand the benefits that come from water energy creation and hydroelectric plants. There may be environmental impacts, and high costs for dam construction products, but many people are beginning to believe that the costs are worth the benefits involved, as our non-renewable energy sources begin to deplete over time.
Water energy was first harnessed using water wheels during classical times. Lumber mills and stone cutting saws were easily powered by water energy. Advances in gearing including the slip cam and the transverse axel made it possible for water wheels to be used for grain mills as well.
Water energy is actually the result of converting what is known as potential energy, into what is known as kinetic energy. Potential energy can be acquired from water that is stored at a higher pressure level. Water wheels or electrical turbines can both be used to help convert this energy into kinetic energy. Hydroelectric power is fairly predictable because our rainfall patterns are generally fairly stable. It does not require us to burn fossil fuels to create this renewable form of power and energy. However, once a hydroelectric plant is built, its output cannot be increased or modified, because water energy power is determined by the weight of water as well as the rate of flow, and these factors cannot be changed later.
Water energy is an energy source which is clean and non-emitting, but there are environmental impacts that come with this type of energy creation. For example, hydroelectric plants require the building of dams when they are created, and when reservoirs are created the local environment can be significantly impacted. Hundreds of square miles can be flooded in the process. For example, the Three Gorges Dam in China floods an area which is larger than the entire state of Nebraska to fill its reservoir.