Portland company hopes to expand its hydropower system worldwide

January 30, 2015 0 By Amanda Giasson

Low-cost renewable energy is harvested from gravity-fed water pipes.

Lucid Energy, the Portland-based company, through a joint effort with the Portland Water Bureau, has recently activated a LucidPipe Power system, the first in-pipe hydropower project in America to secure a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement for renewable energy.

The hydroelectric system will generate enough power for 150 homes.

Lucid Energy installed four hydroelectric generators in a pipe that transports drinking water to the city. The amount of electricity the renewable power system is expected to produce is enough to power 150 homes.

This type of in-pipe hydropower does not disturb natural stream flows or fish, which is one of the setbacks of dams. Unlike other renewables, such as solar and wind, it provides a continuous source of renewable energy, says Gregg Semler, Lucid Energy’s CEO. According to Semler, the company is simply recapturing a waste stream that’s embedded into water agencies’ largest asset.”

The hydroelectric in-pipe system, or the LucidPipe, spins four turbines that generate electricity. The turbines are powered by water flowing inside city pipes. The electricity that is generated can be utilized to counterbalance the energy required to supply water for residents of the city.

Currently, the LucidPipe is in a testing phase, but within the next two months, it is expected to begin generating energy at full capacity.

Lucid Energy hopes to expand its hydropower system into other parts of the U.S. and internationally.

The $1.7 million hydropower pipe project in Portland was paid for by private investors. The revenue from energy sales will be split among Lucid Energy, The Portland Water Bureau and the investment company that funded the pipe, Harbourton Alternative Energy. The city’s water bureau intends to give its cut to water customers.

Portland General Electric has agreed to purchase the clean energy generated by the pipe over the 20-year contract, which is worth about $2 million. Once the contract expires, Portland will have the opportunity to purchase the turbine and keep all profits from the power it generates.

It is the hope of Semler that the project in Portland will be the jumping off point for the company to expand worldwide. He explained that “It’s critical to have real-life examples of the technology working, to prove it’s reliable, durable, and makes sense.”

The in-pipe hydropower system Lucid Energy installed in Portland is its second project. It first installed in-pipe turbines in Riverside, California. Selmer said that eventually projects could be established in more municipalities including California, Arizona, and even China and Korea.

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