This interesting case study spotlights the old rule that most great engineering efforts are 80% perspiration (actually, I think it's 90%) and 20% technical smarts. This project simply wouldn't have happened without all that digging, building, and dirt moving.
Great idea. Getting tied into the grid seems to be an important factor here. Saves the whole problem of storage. The perspiration will probably pay for itself in time, since the foundation is the least likely part of this power plant to fail over time.
I agree, Rob, this sure eliminates the storage problem. And it's heartening to read that the minimum for generating hydroelectric power is only a two-foot drop and two gallons per minute. That's a lot less than I would have guessed.
I've often wondered if we could generate power from the creek in back of our house. At least part of the year, it fulfills those minimum requirements.
If renewables are going to make a significant impact, a certain percentage of the power and a certain percentage of the storage will have to happen on the micro level. This is a great effort and it's a perfect example of what can happen at that micro level.
@letsthink: I agree with you that the numbers don't add up. If 40 cubic feet per second of water (18,000 gallons per minute) falling 10 feet generates 20 kW, then 2 gallons per minute falling 2 feet should generate about 1/90,000 as much power, or 0.2 W. Maybe you could make a LED light up with this.
What wasn't clear to me is if they generated single phase or three phase power. Why the three motors? 15hp is about equal to 20kW, so any one motor could have been a generator. Can anyone fill in the blanks here?
Also, I'm curious what prompted the report--it does read suspiciously like an Automation Direct ad....
I agree that there needs to be support and commitment at the micro level. The challenging economic climate of the last few years has definitely fanned the flames of the local movement and a do-it-yourself mentality. Perhaps that will translate into more people attempting projects as ambitious as this one.
These are the toys that inspired budding engineers to try out sublime designs, create miniature structures, and experiment with bizarre contraptions using sets that could be torn down and reconstructed over and over.
PowerStream is deploying the microgrid at its headquarters to demonstrate how people can generate and distribute their own energy and make their homes and businesses more sustainable through renewables.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.