Through their partnership with the company Lucid Energy, the city of Portland has turned their preexisting water supply into a source of energy. The pair collaborated to install turbines into the pipes under the city’s streets, turning them into constantly running power generators. Portland started by replacing a small section of its pipe network with pipes containing four forty-two inch turbines, made my Lucid Energy. These turbines spin as water passes by them, generating electricity that is then sent directly to the city’s power grid. This innovative clean power production system is set to be up and running fully in March. This project is the first of its kind for energy produced by turbines within a city’s water system.
This in-pipe hydroelectric system is not subjected to the same kind of environmental stresses as other clean energy sources. The turbines generate power whenever water is running through the city’s pipes, which is all the time. Regardless of the weather or the time of day, power is being generated. In addition to not being weather dependent, the system does not harm the environment or ecosystems around it. There are no additional adverse effects from the implementation of the turbines into the pipes. This system takes the city’s water system and turns it into a renewable, environmentally harmless, and constant source of power.
To ensure that the system is economical and efficient, these turbines must be installed where water moves downhill. If they were to be installed where water has to be pumped, the energy used to pump the water would eliminate the energy gained from the turbines. In addition to providing energy, the Lucid Energy pipes can assess Portland’s water supply infrastructure while simultaneously monitor the water’s quality.
The system is currently going through its final-stage testing. The monitors, sensors, and turbines are all being tested to ensure that they are fully operational before their implementation. Once they system is completely installed, it is projected to produce $2,000,000 of renewable energy over its twenty-year contract. This is an average of 1,000 megawatt hours of energy every year, capable of powering up to 150 homes. The money saved will be used in the system’s upkeep and split among the Lucid Energy investors, until the city of Portland owns the entire project in 20 years. At that point, the city will have the rights to all of the energy and profit generated by the system.