Mini-waterwheel generates electricity for a house

An innovative new design now allows a mini-waterwheel to operate in a small stream and provide enough electricity to power a house. Up until now, such micro-power from shallow water wasn’t possible. Now it is. Wow.

A conventional waterwheel allows the water to escape prematurely as the wheel rotates, but the Beck Mickle Hydro generator contains the water for the full drop of the device, converting around 70 per cent of the energy into electricity.

From the Westmorland Gazette (UK)

Ian Gilmartin’s experimental waterwheel is the first to harness the hydro-electric potential of shallow running water.

Made partly from “surplus yoghurt pot plastic”, the invention is capable of being used in river and stream depths of only a few inches, making it a viable form of electricity generation at up to 100,000 sites across the country.

Hat tip to Scott Crawford at Kipahulu Ohana, who says these mini-waterwheels could work well in East Maui where’s there’s lots of water coming down Mount Haleakala. For more on what the Ohana is doing, check our previous post, The Kipahulu Ohana and the Kapahu Living Farm.

Our world runs on electricity. But too many power plants contribute massively to global warming by producing greenhouse gases. What’s needed is multiple renewable energy power sources, more locally based and smaller in size, rather than a few massive plants like we have now. Power to the people means generating it locally as much as possible, using whatever the best local resources are, whether that be solar, wind, ocean, tidal, geothermal, or whatever.

Coal, which produces way too much power in the US, is cheap but massively polluting. Coal plants need to go the way of the dinosaur while the icecaps still exist. There is one other source of massive amount of (supposedly) cheap energy and that is nuclear. But there’s the teensy problem about what to do with the spent fuel rods, not to mention large and unending storage costs – which makes it not so cheap after all.

France gets much of its energy from nukes. But getting a new nuclear plant built in the US, even if desirable, would run into a huge NIMBY factor, and just the planning and environmental vetting process would take years. So, it’s not an option. “Living With Ed” Begley Jr. sums it up, saying he “is a staunch believer in nuclear power – so long as it remains 93 million miles away.”

Renewable energy is the best way to cut down on the greenhouse effect caused by power generation. The icecaps will thank us.