Water flowing in irrigation ditches, pipelines and municipal water delivery systems has potential as a renewable energy resource - with a surprisingly robust return on investment.
Flowing water can spin the blades of a turbine/generator to offset costs for fossil fuels or other sources through interconnection to the electrical grid, or energy can be stored off-grid for other uses. Adaptable job-ready applications for water pumping, and solar/hydro hybrid systems are also attracting attention. These systems can meet client objectives for financial return, energy independence, and resource stewardship.
Low head and flow don't necessarily mean limited options –we have developed numerous projects in the 5-20 kilowatt range.
Local, state and federal regulatory approvals often apply to water project development, particularly for grid-tied systems. Our experience with interconnection and permitting has proven to save clients time and money.
Of the 500,000 viable small scale hydropower sites identified in a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), the majority are contained in the Pacific Northwest. In 2006, the USDOE extended this dataset and concluded that development of small hydro projects alone would provide more than a 50% increase in U.S. hydroelectric generation (i.e. potential for small hydro projects providing between 1 and 30 Megawatts (MW) annually).