Surrounded by sea, as we are, you’d think that, by now, most of our energy would have been sourced from the power of water – wrong!
People have been harnessing the power of water for generations in valleys across the length and breadth of England.
It was the Greeks that started the ball rolling – or rather the water wheel turning.
Hydro means ‘water’ in Greek and it was engineers of that ancient civilisation who invented the two main components of watermills – the water wheel and the toothed gearing. For hundreds of years, water wheels were commonly used for grinding grain into flour but by the 19th century, the water turbine had been developed and industries were popping up all along river banks in our big cities.
Hydroelectric power makes electricity by using the energy from falling water. The water comes from big dams across rivers, and flows down great tubes to drive electricity generators. Most of the world’s biggest rivers are already used for this.
The strength of the tides can also drive generators but this is still a very new idea. Just a few machines, such as those off the coast of Scotland and in the English Channel near St. Malo, France, are in use today but the potential for harnessing wave power is tremendous and it should become cheaper to produce electricity in this way as the technology improves.
Tips for Saving Water at Home
Water. It’s an amazing thing. Our bodies are made up of between 50% and 70% of it; our planet is 75% water - but only about 1% of that is fresh water suitable for drinking. Whereas half the world has known for centuries that it’s a precious resource, here in the UK that fact is something that we are only just beginning to come to terms with. But it only takes a few simple things to start to change the habits of a lifetime.
Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Take five minute showers instead of long lazy soaks thereby saving between five and ten gallons of water a day and if you are waiting for the water to warm up, catch it in a bucket to flush the toilet or water house plants.
Only run the washing machine or dishwasher when full and, when the weather is fine, save energy by drying the clothes on a clothes line.
A small leak can waste 20 gallons a day so check faucets and pipes regularly.
Bathroom etiquette can be a sensitive issue but within the family why not repeat this little mantra: ‘If it’s yellow, it's mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.’ It will save between two and six gallons every time you choose not to flush!