Recent Hydro-Electric Developments in the Alps and the Apennines


THE widely extended and systematic exploita-tion within recent years of the valuable water power resources of Switzerland and Italy, hitherto lying latent among the mountain chains of the Alps and the Apennines, is one of the most striking features in connexion with the modern industrial and commercial developments of the countries in question, and it has been, and is being, attended by economic repercussions affecting various nation-alities, including our own. Coal, the usual source of energy for power purposes where it can be mined, is lacking as a natural deposit, and, in the past, manufacturers using mineral fuel have had to rely in the main on importations from abroad, a very considerable portion of which came from Great Britain (South Wales and the Tyne district). The acute experience during the War, when these external supplies were cut off, brought home to the Swiss and Italian peoples the necessity of finding some internal means of making good a deficiency which tended to hamper, and even to paralyse, their industrial activities and placed them at the mercy of foreign interests. Not surprisingly, their attention was directed to the great potential value of the streams and lakes in the mountainous districts, where an untold quantity of water lay ready for utilisation and was capable, in a very large measure, of meeting commercial and industrial needs. These elevated reservoirs and mountain streams could be harnessed so as to produce electric current, which, in turn, could be distributed far and wide to suitable points of application.

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CUNNINGHAM, B. Recent Hydro-Electric Developments in the Alps and the Apennines. Nature 126, 371–373 (1930).

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