Hydroelectric energy converts the kinetic energy of flowing water into electricity using a turbine. Water flows through a channel, usually carefully regulated as part of a dam spillway, and it turns the blades of the turbine. As long as water continues to flow steadily, the turbine produces a steady stream of electricity. The U.S. Geological Survey Science School states that 19 percent of the world's electricity comes from hydroelectric energy.Continue Reading
Hydroelectric power offers the ability to create electricity without carbon emissions, and it is more reliable than wind or solar power. However, hydroelectric plants usually rely on dams to provide a steady stream of water, and that construction can have an environmental impact of its own. A hydroelectric plant can disrupt the natural migration of fish and other animals that depend on the waterway, and the dam often creates a large reservoir that can displace animals and people.
Hydroelectric dams can be enormous structures, and their construction can completely alter the hydrologic face of an entire region. Also, when a dam fails, it can present a major threat to those living downstream. Since a hydroelectric plant traps a large volume of water and allows it to pass through at a reduced rate, a sudden release of stored water can create dangerous floods.Learn more about Sustainability
Solar energy forms through photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Solar batteries generate electric power from solar cells composed of a semiconductor material, usually silicon. Solar power is used to power items as small as calculators and wrist watches to complex equipment, such as artificial satellites and spaceships.Full Answer >
Wind energy is a form of electricity that is created by wind turbines. Wind energy is used as a mechanical power that is transformed into electricity, with the use of a generator.Full Answer >
Wind turbines generate energy when their three long blades rotate in the wind, turning a generator to produce electricity. One large turbine generates enough energy for over 500 homes. The largest wind turbines are equal in size to a 20-story building, with blades that are nearly 200 feet long.Full Answer >
Solar power, or the conversion of the sun's energy into electricity, is sustainable and renewable. The conversion process is silent and emission free and, solar panels usually require little maintenance. However, the sun is an inconsistent fuel source, the movement of the sun affects the efficiency of fixed solar panels and solar power systems are normally expensive and bulky.Full Answer >