Portland Plans to Generate Electricity through Water Pipes

by Niti Nagar

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.

Coxworth, Ben. “Portland to generate electricity within its own water pipes.” GizMag, 17 February 2015. < http://www.gizmag.com/portland-lucidpipe-power-system/36130/&gt;.