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  • Russ_Cohen

    I must respectfully disagree with the implication contained in this posting that projects that generate electricity from flowing water in pipes have no environmental impact. This is unfortunately not true, at least in many situations.

    (1) While there is admittedly little or no ecological impact of placing a turbine in a pipe, where conduit impacts can have an adverse impact is in the stream reaches deprived of water they otherwise would have received but is instead diverted into the conduit. A conduit can have a similar adverse impact to a flow-deprived stream and its biota as a headrace or penstock can have to a bypass reach in a conventional, dam-dependent hydro project.

    (2) While some might counter with the arguments that: a) the adverse impact (e.g., the water supply diversion) is already happening – adding hydro doesn’t change anything; and b) the diversion is necessary (to supply the water suppliers’ customers), my response is that, in many situations, the water diverted into the conduit is not being used efficiently or appropriately, e.g., for watering lawns, including wasteful sprinkler systems that operate during the middle of the day, or overspray onto sidewalks + driveways, or who operate during a rainstorm, etc.

    (3) If these and other inappropriate or inefficient uses of water were reduced or eliminated, then less water would need to be diverted out of the stream and into the conduit, and more flow could be retained in the natural stream reach to support healthy aquatic and other water-dependent organisms and habitats. If, however, the hydro turbine installed into the conduit was sized based on the wasteful flows, then I can imagine the conduit/turbine operators being unwilling to consider (if not actively opposing) efforts to reduce unnecessary diversions into the pipe (“oh, we can’t do that – we’d generate less hydropower!”).

    (4) So: a) all proposed conduit hydro projects should be required to look at the adverse impacts on the stream reaches deprived of flow, even if it is already happening, and look for and implement opportunities to reduce adverse impacts (e.g., require customers to use the water appropriately and efficiently); and b) any conduit turbines installed should be sized so that they can operate at lower flows if and when inappropriate or inefficient uses of water delivered by the conduit were reduced or eliminated.

    Thanks for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.

  • Stewart Yardley

    It is good that they have finally uncovered the huge amount of energy which has been hugely wasted all these years and finally decided that they should start utilizing it. Now, amidst saving water supply by adjusting the faucet in one way or another, they can simultaneously harvest energy as well, for many other purposes. I think the system will eventually work like a water turbine that is a combo of a water generator that harnesses energy at the very same time and at the exact location. With this technique, two types of energy are being efficiently used.