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Watch Out Solar and Wind, Hydro-Power Is Right Behind You


Seawer SkyscraperIt is incredible that in a space of just a few years the innovations in the field of renewable energy have reached unbelievable heights. We are finally at a stage where instead of talking about scientific discoveries that “could one day transform the world”, we now give real examples that only encourage competition and further development.

Ivanpah solar farm, the upcoming Dutch Offshore Windfarm, the Solar Wind Downdraft Towerall being leading technologies in renewable energy, and all waiting for the next giant to top them up.

But with solar and wind making it to the news almost every day, we somehow neglect the fact that these are not the only players. Hydropower generation, although it is the underdog at this stage, holds the potential to steal everyone else’s thunder very soon. You wonder how? Here are some of the game-changing technologies that can spin everyone’s head. There is a video that goes with each one, just in case you’re a “see it to believe it” type of person.

1. Hydroelectric power on-demand.

As we all know, solar and wind, as great as they are, need a back up, and often this back up does not come from a renewable source. This is where the first great hydro-power technology comes into play. It is called the Searaser, and it is essentially a pump that sends water uphill thanks to the motion of the waves, creating energy, which can later on be released again. The technology is now a property of Dale Vince, who have huge plans for it in the coming five years. Here is the video.

2. Tidal Lagoons.

These became extremely popular in the U.K. as scientists and engineers joined forces to find a way to use the energy provided by the enormous tides, especially on the coast of Southern Wales and Southwest England. The first of the several installations will appear in Swansea Bay, followed by another two, which should be fully operational by 2021. Here is the video.

3. Harnessing power from toilet flushes and showers.

This is definitely not a large scale hydro-power project, actually it is the exact opposite. But wouldn’t it be great if we could harness the energy generated by our toilet flush and shower on daily basis? A team of researchers from South Korea say “yes”! It might not be much, but if it manages to provide enough electricity to keep the lights on while we enjoy our precious moments in the bathroom, it would already be a great thing. Here is the video.

4. Use the wind to harness tidal power.

This invention comes from the giant in wind energy generation- Siemens. These guys are among the first to operate a large-scale tidal power plant, which generates enough energy to supply power to more than 1,500 homes in Ireland. It might not be as much power as some of the gigantic solar and wind power plants provide, but it is quite a great technology with huge potential. Here is the video.

5. Cleaning up the ocean while generating electricity.

This is the only futuristic and slightly too ambitious project that I will mention, but it is of a particular importance, as it addresses two of the greatest problems of our society- ocean garbage and energy demand. I guess what makes it more special is the fact that plastics are now covering the surface of our seas to an extend to which they even sabotaged the search of the missing MH370 Flight , and well, who wouldn’t want to harness some power while cleaning up the mess. Although still a prototype, and it might well be a bit too difficult to realize, the Seawater Skyscraper, designed by Sung Jin Cho, is an incredible invention. It is a self-supported hydro-power station, which uses everything, from waves to plastics to create energy, while cleaning up the water. Here is the video.

Image (c) eVolvo

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