There's a wide array of possibilities in the genre to get electric power!
|So, we know about steam power and clockwork mechanisms. But what about good old fashioned electricity? Contrary to what we were told as kids, Benjamin Franklin didn't discover electricity...he just confirmed that lightning was indeed an electric power source that could be tapped into and directed if necessary. But how can we use electric power in Steampunk? For that, I will turn the floor over to the illustrious Dr. Elias F. Gloriosky, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Miskatonic University, and the perpetual chair of the College of Pandemonia:
"The use of electricity in all its forms is one of the most reliable and yet dangerous elements at our disposal. Quite some years ago, it was discovered that batteries for the storage and use of electricity have been in existence for nearly 22 centuries! While electricity was not used by the general public that long ago, many Egyptian priests and wise men in both Greece and Rome experimented with electricity. While batteries of any age can hold a charge and be used in nearly any era, one of the most reliable forms of electrical power in use by Her Majesty's Time Brigades are military grade Aether bottles. While there are many manufacturers, I myself prefer those produced by Grassley and Co., who also manufacture the finest commercial orientometers available in the world. These bottles are filled with purified Aether containing a small amount of Ectoplasm for stability, and can be used indefinitely. Should they begin to weaken, it is a simple matter to transit the Aether with the lead wires from the top exposed for 10 to 15 minutes to completely recharge each of the bottles, no matter what their size, voltage, or amperage. Should one not care to climb aboard an airship, or if it is inconvenient to enter the Aether for some reason, Grassley also provides a wonderful clockwork recharger that will do the job in under an hour."
As you can see, electricity is certainly in no short supply in the Steampunk Universe, although it seems Dr. Gloriosky might be a paid endorser by at least one manufacturer that is well known in New Praetoria. While I will not stoop to blatant endorsement, I must admit that there is no limit to the commercial possibilities that can be discovered (or invented) within our genre. Electic power can be a by-product of nearly any steam or clockwork mechanism, as well as chemical reactions. One need only visit any carnival to find brine tanks being used to provide additional power for rides and lighting on the midway at a very low investment by the carnival operators. Indeed, most of us have at one time or another seen citrus fruits used to power small lights.
Aboard airships in my own writing, lightning cannons powered by Aether and Ectoplasm are nearly as common an armament as gunpowder cannons, although to be actually viable from a scientific standpoint, they are used in conjunction with harpoons that are used as lightning rods to make use of the vast electric charges that are used. Similarly, lightning guns are readily used, but they are operated similar to a modern Taser in my writings. Thus they do have to be reloaded, so that there can be some dramatic effects from time to time.
In my own real-world experience, I have a small clockwork device that, when wound, creates and stores a rather sizeable electric charge. If you look around, you will find that many companies produce wind-up electrical devices such as radios, electric lamps, and even battery chargers that are useful when it comes to bringing light to the dark corners of the Steampunk Universe.
It's always good to remember that any technology has its limits. By always remembering that, you will be able to write without creating invincible characters, or technology that provides advantages that are insurmountable for your protagonists.
I do apologize for Dr. Gloriosky's comments...they are valid, but he does seem to be in someone's pocket....