August 04, 2011

'Micro Hydro' Can Be Real Big for Consumers

Written by:
Riccardo Ricci
Project Manager - Sorensen Systems

Don’t let the word “micro” fool you. In the world of modern power generation, micro is a big word. More and more opportunities are arising for government, industry and even individual homeowners to enter the world of “Micro Hydro.”

Recently, we completed an installation of a micro hydro plant for the MWRA at its Loring Road facility in Weston, MA. The storage facility there is part of the massive reservoir and distribution system that brings water from the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs to Boston and other eastern Massachusetts communities. The plant that we installed was designed to take advantage of potential energy that already existed but was not being tapped.

As water flows as a result of gravity from west to east, there is a need to reduce the pressure. A series of pressure reducing valves handles that assignment. But, it was determined that instead of just reducing the water pressure, it could be proactively used to spin a turbine and thus create electricity as a by-product of its energy.

This plant will generate 1.2 million kWh per year, which will power the storage facility and create enough excess electricity that it can be sold back to the public utility. That’s great for the environment, and especially great for the taxpayer. The consumer gets an efficient source of electricity through use of a renewable energy source (water) and then gets to pay less for electricity because the same water creates its own electric power. There’s nothing “micro’ about that. That’s what I call real big for consumers.

You can read more about the Hydroelectric Plant we designed and built for the MWRA on our website. In future blog reports I will tell you about other projects we have completed.