Good Hydro - Getting Power From Waterways
According to the US Department of Energy, there are over 500,000 potential sites for micro-hydropower in this country. This amounts to around $10 billion in electricity sales that somebody is not recouping.
There are some good reasons for this: micro-hydropower technology is still in its infancy; it can be inefficient, difficult to install, and maintenance often poses a lot of problems. Until now.
Washington-based company, Hydrovolts, "are committed to the development of sustainable communities supported by renewable hydrokinetic energy," through the use of their revolutionary new in-stream hydrokinetic turbines. The recent winners of the Imagine H2O Water-Energy Nexus Competition have developed a turbine that is efficient, and relatively easy to install and maintain.
The efficiency comes through the use of their 'flipwing' technology, which guarantees minimum drag through the water, producing enough electricity from a single unit to power up to three American homes, or an entire village in the developing world. The Hydrovolts turbine has simple 'drop in' installation, requiring only that you have a place to put it, something to tie it to, and an inverter to connect to it. And its simple design ensures that maintenance is fairly straightforward.
In fact, anywhere that you can find a source of consistently flowing, debris-free water, you will get a better return on investment from this than you would from wind or solar power.
Here it is in action, courtesy of The Cleantech Open, who awarded Hydrovolts the 2009 National Sustainability Award for this design: