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Home Forums General Discussion “Hydro Power”: Taking a Step Back.

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    Nick Rosen

    Before electricity came along, any business or operation that required steady power was always located alongside a swift stream or a river(or tied to a windmill). The force of the water would turn the blade of the sawmill, or the grinding stone, or whatever machine was hooked up to it.

    When electricity first came onto the scene, there was little or no thought given to the pollution that was created when the electricity was generated. Therefore, this new source of power allowed businesses to be located away from water and in more convenient locations. It was often easier to provide a more consistent power to your machine with electricity because with the change of flow in the rivers, machines were constantly having to be adjusted.

    Well, now that a few years have passed and we realize the true COSTS of generating electricity, I believe we have forgotten what a tremendous power source a river can be.

    Now I am not suggesting that we move all of our businesses back to the rivers and cause environmental chaos. I simply believe that there is a middle path that would allow us in some instances to harness this tremendous power source from areas where the rivers natural form has already been compromised.

    One option would be to harness the power of a swollen river to pump some of the extra water to a location where it could be stored until it was needed.

    Floating barges, with turning water wheels built into their decks or mounted along any side, could utilize the power of the river to operate a number of types of equipment that would not be effected too much by slight variations in speed.

    Chippers, shredders, and pulverizers, as well as conveyors to transport materials could all be powered by moving water.

    All I am saying is that now that we have learned the true price of modernization, some of our best solutions to the problems we have created may be to take a big step back into the past.

    Even a small stream can be harnessed to provide direct mechanical power to operate equipment that could never be run by electricity generated by the very same stream.

    A current barely strong enough to generate enough electricity to light a small light bulb, could easily provide enough direct mechanical power to operate equipment that would normally require 100 times the wattage of the bulb.


    I couldn’t agree with you more. We basically have to learn to use less energy again, especially with peak oil (when oil demand oustrips oil supply) around the corner. When we reach this point, oil prices will soar, and the days of $100/barrel will be considered cheap!

    In order to help achieve this we have to go back to a localised economy – relying on locally produced food and goods. We also have to learn how to utilise what we have more wisely.


    just google “micro hydro power” and you will find more information than you will know what to do with. After seeing some of this you can come back with specific questions pertinent to your particular application.

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