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Off Grid Energy Independence
Posted on October 04, 2018

Hydropower from drinking water

Lucid Energy hopes to turn millions of miles of gravity-fed water pipelines around the world into generators of clean, environmentally-friendly, renewable energy from in-pipe hydropower, envisioning a future where in-pipe hydropower is a widely available form of renewable energy that helps reduce reliance on fossil fuels while making water delivery more economically sustainable. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Energy Harvesting Microwatt to Megawatt 2019-2029.
The LucidPipe™ Power System spins gravity into renewable energy by harvesting an otherwise untapped resource: excess pressure in gravity-fed water pipelines. LucidPipe was designed with municipal water agencies in mind. After years of research, development and discussions with water managers, Lucid Energy developed and patented a unique, spherical, in-pipe hydropower turbine that generates electricity without removing all of the pressure or disrupting water delivery. Because the turbines operate inside of pipes, LucidPipe doesn't harm ecosystems. This hydropower is clean, consistent and controlled by the water agency.
Lucid Energy's efforts began in 2007 and focused on the development of small, hydrokinetic turbines for use in open waterways. But open waterways have a high degree of complexity: water flow is unpredictable and weather-dependent, turbines are subject to damage from debris, fish and other inhabitants of water ecosystems and anything placed in a river or stream can harm the environment.
The company's second generation LucidPipe turbine design is underway and will utilize advanced manufacturing technologies, significantly increase power output, operate across a wider range of pipe sizes and flows and significantly reduce capital cost. The Gen 2 LucidPipe Power System will enable a reduction in costs and expand the potential number of installation sites around the world.
How it works
The LucidPipeTM Power System generates environmentally-friendly hydropower with no impact on water delivery. Unique, spherical turbines are installed inside large-diameter (24" - 60") gravity-fed water transmission pipelines. The turbines spin as water passes through them, converting excess head pressure into electricity. Multiple turbines can be mounted in series, one after the other, to maximize energy output. Unlike conventional hydropower and in-pipe PRV replacement technologies, the LucidPipe Power System does not inhibit water delivery and operates in a wide range of pipe diameters and pressure/flows. Turbines are placed in series, 4 diameters apart for maximum energy potential. Next generation turbines are expected to produce twice the power output per turbine.
Electricity generated by the LucidPipe Power System can be used behind the meter or sold to energy utilities through power purchase agreements (PPA). The target Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) is between $0.05 and $0.12 per kilowatt hour, depending on local energy rates and other project financing factors. Target project payback is 10 years.
Advantages of LucidPipe
  • Hydropower that doesn't harm ecosystems
  • Can generate consistent, predictable energy 24/7
  • No impact on water delivery
  • Turns excess pressure into a revenue stream through power purchase agreements
  • Provides grid-connected or off-grid power
  • Use for distributed electricity, peak-energy and battery charging
Water agencies today face increasing financial challenges. The high cost of energy, coupled with energy efficiency mandates and the need to repair or replace aging infrastructure all require creative solutions to keep operations sustainable. Pipeline repairs and installations provide opportunities to deploy LucidPipe on a wide scale, producing megawatts of renewable energy nationwide.
Two innovative water utilities have deployed the first generation LucidPipe Power System in their transmission pipelines: Portland Water Bureau and Riverside Public Utilities. These installations have proven the LucidPipe concept and now serve as models for water agencies around the world to explore the value of in-pipe hydropower. Under contract with the City of Portland and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB), Lucid Energy installed a 42" four-turbine system as part of a PWB system upgrade. The site came online in January 2015.
The LucidPipe system extracts pressure from the pipeline upstream from a flow control valve, which reduces the work required of the valve and will reduce valve wear over time.
A 20-year Power Purchase Agreement is in place with Portland General Electric, the local power utility, to purchase the energy generated by the system. The project will help the city meet its Climate Action Plan goals by generating an average of 900 MWh per year, enough electricity to power approximately 100 homes.
Source and top image: Lucid Energy