Norway is in the process of finalizing plans to build massive submarine power cables to link its power grid to England’s and Germany’s grids. The move is being praised as a win for clean energy, as the cable will allow for exporting excess hydroelectric energy from Norway to England and Germany. The cable to Germany is set to be completed by 2018, while the cable to England will be finished by 2020 (Reuters 2015). Continue reading →
Lucid Energy has created the LucidPipe Power System which harnesses the water flow in municipal pipelines to produce hydroelectric power. The LucidPipe is installed in a section of an existing gravity-fed conventional pipeline that is designated for transporting potable water. The water flows through four 42-inch turbines, each connected to a generator outside the pipe. In Portland, the 200kW system was privately funded by Harbourton Alternative Energy. Although the power system was installed in December, it is currently undergoing reliability and efficiency testing. So far, it has been reported that the presence of the turbines does not slow the water flow rate significantly, so there is no change on pipeline efficiency. The system was set to begin generating power at full capacity by March 2015.
Once running, the system is expected to generate approximately 1,100 megawatt hours of energy per year. This is equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power about 150 homes. It is projected that over the next 20 years, the system should generate about $2 million in energy sales to Portland General Electric. Harbourton Alternative Energy will get a share of these sales and it plans on sharing the money with the City of Portland and the Portland Water Bureau in order to offset operational costs. At the end of the 20 year period, the Portland Water Bureau will have the option to purchase the system, along with all the energy it produces.
Currently, this system is the only one of its kind in Portland. However if shown to be successful, more may follow. In Riverside, California a previously-installed energy system has been providing power since 2012. Since then many smaller, but similar, systems have become available, many of which can be installed within households. The Pluvia generates electricity from the flow of rainwater off of rooftops, while the H20 Power radio uses electricity generated by the flow of shower water.
Seems like it’s getting to the point that no possible source of power should go unharvested. This paper envisions the water tanks at the top of apartment complexes in Taiwan as mini-pumped storage projects: by installing miniature turbines in the water supply pipes feeding the building from these tanks, electricity can be generated whenever the occupants use any water. The pipes are 4–6 inches in diameter, and a single turbine can generate about 3 Watts under the expected water flows. The experimental turbine blades were printed on a 3-D printer until the engineers got the result they wanted; a set of three airfoil blades that didn’t alter the flow rate of the water. (I’m not quite sure how this could be…if the blades extract energy it seems to me that the only place it could have come from is by diminishing the flow rate. Perhaps someone could explain this in a comment.) In any event, extracting this amount of energy apparently didn’t interfere with the functioning of the water supply system. The authors figure that they could get enough electricity out of a building’s water supply lines to run a few light fixtures. They didn’t explore it much, but the drains are another obvious source of potential energy. This all seems good.