WATERPOWER; Harnessing the clouds and snow
Considerable quantities of water evaporate when the sun shines on oceans and lakes; this evaporated water rises in the atmosphere until it cools to the dew point, where it generally ceases rising and forms clouds. Wind drives the clouds over land masses, which causes the clouds to rise and cool. With the dew point lowered due to the cooling, excess moisture falls in the form of rain and snow.
This precipitation is collected in storage reservoirs where it is piped to a turbine via a penstock. The turbine converts the dynamic force of falling water into mechanical energy; mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy via electro-magnetic generators. Alternating current voltage can be altered via transformers; high voltage is used in long distance power lines, low voltage is uses in houses and small businesses.
Hydroelectric systems are usually a part of navigation projects, irrigation systems, or municipal water supplies. The environmental effect of adding a hydroelectric turbine to an existing water system is generally nil. In these situations, hydropower causes the least impacts while providing the most reliable and predictable output of any renewable energy technology. Hydrowest specializes in restoring retired hydro plants and installing hydro generation equipment on existing water systems.
COMBINED CYCLE; Efficiently makes wind and solar reliable
The ordinary stand alone thermal power-plant rarely exceeds 40% efficiency; most of the heat value of the fuel goes up the chimney without doing any useful work whatsoever. This inefficiency is tremendously wasteful and contributes greatly to environmental degradation. Modern cogeneration plants generally exceed 80% efficiency.
In a cogeneration plant, heat recovery systems are attached to the exhaust stream of otherwise conventional thermal power-plants; the steam/hot water/hot air thus collected can be used for industrial processes, commercial refrigeration, and building heating and cooling. Hydrowest developed some of the earliest and most efficient commercial scale cogeneration plants, using plentiful and less polluting natural gas.
Gas fired cogeneration plants are needed to make the output from wind and solar plants firm; their quick starting capabilities are used to assure continuity of supplies from non-firm renewable resources, with a lower cost and much more efficiency than other firming technologies like pumped storage and battery/inverter systems.