Back to basics: direct hydropower

One hydropower configuration that deserves considerable attention is a water turbine directly powering machinery, without the intermediate step of generating electricity. The implementation of this form of direct hydropower doubles the effectiveness of a small scale electric hydropower installation. This advantage can be used to increase the energy production of an existing water power site. It also means that more potential water power sites become available, and that relatively small streams and rivers can be shared by several hydropower units. Because of its higher efficiency a direct hydropower system is also cheaper.

Energy in East Africa

In most East African countries access to electricity is very low. Besides electricity, there is a basic need for energy. In Eastern African countries most of the energy consumed is produced from traditional solid biomasses, such as the burning of wood.

The search for combustibles begins early in the morning, includes several hours of walking, and, in cases where no trees are to be found, digging for roots with bare hands; in some regions this activity is accompanied by the constant danger of violent and sexual assaults. In areas where there is no wood left for burning, cow dung or other waste is used for fuel.

How much dam energy can we get?

Having now sorted solar, wind, and tidal power into three “boxes,” let’s keep going and investigate another source of non-fossil energy and put it in a box. Today we’ll look at hydroelectricity. As one of the earliest renewable energy resources to be exploited, hydroelectricity is the low-hanging fruit of the renewable world. It’s steady, self-storing, highly efficient, cost-effective, low-carbon, low-tech, and offers a serious boon to water skiers. I’m sold! Let’s have more of that! How much might we expect to get from hydro, and how important will its role be compared to other renewable resources?