* The world’s total gross theoretical river power capability is over 40,000 TWh/yr.
* Estimated Global Tidal Power Potential is 3,700 GW.
* The total energy generation potential of waves breaking on the
world’s coastline is estimated by the US DOE is at 2000-3000 Gigawatts.
* The total worldwide power in ocean currents has been estimated to be about 5,000 GW.
Worldwide in 2008 there was an installed capacity of 860 GWe supplied 3300 TWh of hydroelectricity. China has 60 GW out of the total of 80 GW of operating small hydro (less than 10MW each). Hydro power could theoretically be increased by 20-30 times over current levels.
Bourne Energy has technically cool proposals but other companies (mainly those working in China) are actually building the small and micro hydro projects.
Bourne Energy’s new hydroelectric generator called the Backpack Power Plant, comes in two versions – military and civilian. Both allow a small hydroelectric power plant to be easily carried to remote creeks and streams to generate electricity.
The military Backpack Power Plant Type 2 is only three feet long and weighs less than 25 pounds. “It is self-contained with its own integrated power, control, cooling and sensor systems.” The unit collapses into three parts that are then easily transportable in a cylindrical backpack.
The parts are reassembled to create a hydroelectric power plant that generates 600 W of power. Multiple units can be set up in arrays that will generate up to 20 KW. The power plants operate silently without “heat or exhaust emissions making the unit more difficult for opposing troops to locate. If stream bottom mounted, the unit is invisible for all practical purposes.
A civilian version is the Backpack Power Plant Type 1. This portable power pack weighs less than 30 pounds and is three feet long.
Micro-hydroelectric systems are more compact and cost effective than many types of energy production. The cost of these systems can range from $1500 to $2500 per kilowatt of installed capacity, depending on the location and given capacity of the system. There are two types of systems, which result in two different ranges of total costs, when taking into account initial costs (setting up the turbines) and annual costs (maintenance and repairs). The first of these systems is a hydropower facility with a battery for storage. These are generally the least expensive micro-hydropower systems, and can be used for lighting or domestic purposes. The second type of micro-hydropower machinery is the AC-direct system, which is most similar to the power generation equipment used by utilities. These transfer energy directly rather than storing it first. AC-direct systems are appropriate for both on the grid and off the grid systems. These systems are small and intended for domestic use, but could be expanded to generate more power for a greater number of users.
Various companies have begun using micro-hydropower as an alternative source of energy. The company Bourne Energy is only one of many that has designed a micro-hydro unit. The companies states their unit, called RiverStar, repels fish with a delicate pressure wave that emerges for the front of the turbines, which they do not expect to significantly harm wildlife. Each unit is said to generate up to 50kW in a four knot current. The micro hydro must be installed in arrays, or in groups of 20 units, which are connected up to 10 feet under the surface of the river by steel plates (2008). Another example is Electrovent, a Canadian company that has installed turbines in rivers to supply energy near hunting and fishing camps. Yet another is the project by Morehead Valley Inc., which generates 120 kW to the BC Hydro Grid in British Columbia, Canada, and has been in place since 1994.
Bourne’s advantage over hydropower dams includes:
1. By eliminating the dam and reservoir a large part of the total energy from the
energy consumed side of the Net Energy equation is eliminated.
2. Most dams are composed of non-recyclable earthworks and
concrete which are not removable without considerable investment and time.
3. Dam construction is labor, energy and time intensive.
4. Dams and their reservoirs require a large footprint.
5. Dams require long construction times.
6. Reservoirs emit considerable methane and CO2.
7. Reservoirs suffer significant freshwater losses due to evaporation.
8. Dams reduces the amount of sedimentation in the water that is
needed to rebuilds the river.
9. Over time dam silt up reducing their overall performance.
10. Dam’s high speed turbines are not fish friendly.
Verdant Power has working Demonstration Projects
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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