Hydroelectricity created from a dam. Central Hidroeléctrica El Nihuil © by lucasgburgos

All the energy that most people enjoy so freely is derived at some point from natural resources. Water specifically is one resource that is used to generate electricity. There are two established ways to make hydroelectricity; via a water powered turbine (what the water wheel was to kinetic energy the turbine is to electricity) and wave power and the changing of the tides. These are sustainable energy production methods because the water’s power and not the water itself is used. This is also why hydroelectric dams are considered sustainable, although the man-made dams cause environmental damage to the location- and there is also the possibility of that these massive structures will fail and devastate the communities or habitats that lie beneath. Although, not without impact, hydroelectric power presents a relatively low impact when compared to blowing up mountains for mere, expendable coal and other such short-term energy gain.

Niagara Falls in New York was one of the first places to harness water for energy for success. Nicola Tesla, the brilliant inventor and scientist generated electricity on a mass scale by using the falls great strength to spin turbines. The turbines created electricity through their movement around a wire which could then be stored and moved for use elsewhere. Giant dams work in a similar way. Tunnels beneath the dam are made and filled with turbines which the water can flow through, creating electricity with the movement. The amount of electricity produced is completely determined by operators.

Then there is the electricity created by the moon- specifically the waves generated by the moon’s gravitational pull. Again, turbines are spun by waves creating wave power. Not all the ocean is ideal for setting up water turbines, but it is certainly a vast opportunity to be further developed especially in the pursuit of sustainable energy production methods. There also is reason to believe that some water turbines and tidal power plants may be destructive to ocean life.

In comparison to burning fossil fuels, a limited resource, using water’s power to make hydroelectricity is a far better alternative. Individuals too can harness water for energy. A stream or river can produce smaller amounts of energy for household use.