The cleanest of renewable technologies (to date): Hydropower and the Dilemma of Lake Mead.

There are several technologies that currently exist (and scientists are working to find others) that use clean and renewable energy methods to produce energy; notably, electricity. One of the cleanest (thanks to the pioneering work of Nicola Tesla) and impressive is that of hydropower. Given that hydropower is quite simply the harnessing of electricity by the flowing of water, and in the case of Lake Mead and its corresponding Hoover Dam, falling water. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the US by volume and serves as a source of water and electricity generated by the dam supplies private and public utilities in Arizona, Nevada and California. Furthermore, Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction that brings in nearly 1 million visitors per year. However, with the current drought that is impacting the Southwest, this feature is rapidly depleting, thus will affect all the above industries and the recipients of water and electricity downstream.

Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Image courtesy of www.qtlv.com.

With the dam producing an average of 2,000 megawatts of power, a halt in the water going through the dam’s turbines will have significant consequences. No water, no electricity. To put this into perspective, the Agua Caliente facility in Arizona (the largest solar array system in the world with more than 5 million solar panels) produces about 290 megawatts of power. So, it would take almost 7 Agua Caliente’s to meet the output of 1 Hoover Dam. It can be done, however, the dam provides more than just electricity. The tourism and most importantly, the water is of the highest priority to inhabitants in the region. What can be done to curb this crisis? Appropriate technology, passive design of homes and offices, energy efficient appliances and a revolution in the way we live our lives are all measures that we can take as a society to ease the demand of electricity and keep progressing into a positive future. Certainly, properly designed cities that take into account the size of the population and productivity are a must and can be done by our city planners. It just takes the will to do it and the courage to make it happen.

Agua Caliente solar array facility.
Agua Caliente solar array facility in Arizona. Image courtesy of www.scientificamerican.com.

Solar on!

Mario @ Your Solar Link

Stainless steel solar wall light.
Stainless steel solar wall light from Your Solar Link. Image courtesy of www.yoursolarlink.com.

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