You’d be forgiven if the phrase “Portland goes green with
innovative water pipes” doesn’t immediately call to mind thoughts of
civil engineering and hydro-electric power. And yet, that’s exactly what
Oregon’s largest city has done by partnering with a company called Lucid Energy to generate clean electricity from the water already flowing under its streets and through its pipes.
Portland has replaced a section
of its existing water supply network with Lucid Energy pipes containing
four forty-two inch turbines. As water flows through the pipes, the
turbines spin and power attached generators, which then feed energy back
into the city’s electrical grid. Known as the “Conduit 3 Hydroelectric
Project,” Portland’s new clean energy source is scheduled to be up and
running at full capacity in March. According to a Lucid Energy FAQ detailing
the partnership, this will be the “first project in the U.S. to secure a
20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for renewable energy produced by
in-pipe hydropower in a municipal water pipeline.“
A short promotional video describes the technology and benefits involved in harnessing energy from municipal water pipelines.
As the video explains, Lucid Energy’s system isn’t affected by the
sort of external conditions (namely: the weather) upon which
other renewable energy sources–like solar and wind power– are reliant.
Nor does the technology, completely ensconced within a pipe, have
adverse effects on a surrounding environmental ecosystem, as an
exposed hydroelectric dam might.
Fast Company points out that, in
order to be cost and energy effective, Portland’s new power generators
must be installed in pipes where water flows downhill, without having to
be pumped, as the energy necessary to pump the water would negate the
subsequent energy gleaned. However, Fast Company also notes
that the system does more than simply provide electricity: It
can monitor both the overall condition of a city’s water supply
network as well as assess the drinking quality of the water flowing
That is SO COOL! West of the cascades we certainly don’t lack hills (excepting a few towns in the Willamette valley and the tiny places basically built on glorified sandbars like Ocean Shores). Water towers are built on hilltops anyway.
Does it noticeably change pressure, I wonder?
Portland Now Generates Electricity From Turbines Installed In City Water Pipes
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