Canals transport water to meet our needs for irrigation and waste treatment: with a new invention by Seattle-based Hydrovolts, they can meet our energy needs as well.
Hydrovolts’ invention is a hydro-kinetic turbine designed to float in canals. One turbine produces anywhere from 50 watts to 25 kilowatts of energy, or enough to power several American homes or an entire village in the developing world. They can be scaled up and deployed in groups to make more power.
Hydrovolts’ turbine systems are in a class of technology that uses the power of flowing water to generate energy known as micro-hydro. Micro-hydro is praised as a way of gathering renewable energy from the existing movement of water. However, most micro-hydro to date has been put in place in free-flowing streams and rivers.
Hydrovolts’ contribution to the sector of micro-hydro is that it gathers energy from waterways that have already been altered by human activity: canals such as those used for crop irrigation. Using canals as an energy source has advantages from an engineering perspective as well. Since they are engineered systems, canals have a uniform depth and width, and are generally managed by engineers who can provide predictable water flows.
Because of the similarities in structure and operations of canals around the world, Hydrovolts’ invention could be rapidly applied in many locations, bringing a renewable energy source to places that did not have one previously.