Understanding this research coming out of Columbia University, might make your mind explode. The implications of this are potentially far-reaching, but the research is still in an early stage and just beginning to get public attention. It doesn't even have a name really yet. How about "evaportricity"?
Wherever there is water there is evaporation. It happens all the time, sun up and sun down. It is a manifestation of the molecular energy that exists in all water above absolute zero. Until now, the power of this natural phenomenon has never been converted into other forms of energy. This new research is showing us that evaporation energy can be successfully converted to kinetic energy (and then into electrical energy) and that the technology can be scaled.
From Nanowerk News:
When evaporation energy is scaled up, the researchers predict, it could one day produce electricity from giant floating power generators that sit on bays or reservoirs, or from huge rotating machines akin to wind turbines that sit above water, said Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia University and the paper's lead author.
"Evaporation is a fundamental force of nature," Sahin said. "It's everywhere, and it's more powerful than other forces like wind and waves."
As a side benefit to this new technology, wherever it is installed (ideally on the surface of a body of water) it keeps water in a closed loop without releasing it to the air. In other words, this technology could be installed on top of water reservoirs to generate electricity while also conserving water. They are still a long way from commercializing this, and they will need to move beyond the use of spores, but still it is impressive.
Who can imagine what these evaportricity infrastructures will look like when they are scaled up to power our cities?!