Ever since we discovered that fossil fuels are gradually becoming more and more depleted, humans have been in constant search for energy sources that can replenish themselves naturally and more importantly, do not have harmful effects on the environment.
These energy sources are what are known today as renewable. Little by little, more people and corporations are beginning to convert to these clean energy sources. They are cheaper than traditional energy sources, and they are also very Earth-friendly. Among the many types of alternative sources are hydropower and geothermal energy.
Water is continuously replenished through a natural method called the water cycle. With the sun’s heat, water from the ocean, and even from large lakes, turns into vapor. This water vapor forms clouds. Eventually, when they are heavy enough, the vapor turns into rain and falls back to the Earth, oceans, lakes, and other water bodies. Due to this, water is considered to be a renewable source of energy.
To produce electricity from water, humans constructed dams and hydroelectric facilities. These hydroelectric facilities do not use any fuel, rather, they harness the power of flowing rivers. Huge dams were built to trap the flowing water, creating a large water reservoir. Similar to the method used in wind turbines, hydropower uses the strength of the river flow to drive the turbines. These then produce electricity in the generators.
The electricity yielded is then fed into electrical grids and distributed into homes and offices for consumption. One of the biggest dams in the US is the Hoover Dam located in the Colorado River. It has been constantly producing power to millions of people in nearby areas.
Although hydropower seems very beneficial, it can also be a threat to certain aquatic animals. There are also possibilities of flooding, especially during typhoons and severe weather conditions.
Geothermal energy may be one of the least known sources of renewable energy, but it is still as effective as hydropower or wind energy. The Earth’s core is tremendously hot. This heat continuously rises and warms up the surface. The ground beneath our feet produces constant heat, enough to be made into a renewable source of energy.
There are a lot of heat sources underneath the Earth such as hot water and rocks a couple of miles down, as well as magma which lies deeper down. The most common geothermal energy source, however, can be found about 10 feet underneath the surface, shallow ground which gives off almost a steady temperature between 10 Celsius and 16 Celsius.
To make use of this heat energy, a geothermal heat pump system is constructed. People bury pipes into the ground next to the building which will use the heat. This system of pipes is called a heat exchanger. A heat pump is then connected to the pipes. During the warmer months, the heat pump removes the hot air from the building and takes it to the pipes. The process is then reversed for the winter season.