Hydroelectric The first FERC-licensed hydrokinetic power plant in the U.S. produces energy without building dams.

Published on August 21st, 2009 | by Tina Casey

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U.S. Hydrokinetic Installation Squeezes More Clean Power from Mississippi River

August 21st, 2009 by  

The first FERC-licensed hydrokinetic power plant in the U.S. produces energy without building dams.With the flick of a switch, the first ever commercial-scale hydrokinetic power plant in the U.S. officially commenced operation in the Mississippi River yesterday.  The hydrokinetic turbines, manufactured by Hydro Green Energy LLC, are located below an existing hydropower plant at Hastings, Minnesota.  The initial turbine has a capacity of 100KW.  When fully operational, the new facility will have a capacity of 250KW, adding more than 5.7% of sustainable energy generation without the need to expand the existing dam or build a new one.

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Hydro Green Energy

Unlike hydropower dams, which operate on water pressure, hydrokinetic turbines produce energy from ambient movement in the water.  Tidal power and wave power are two other examples of hydrokinetic power.  Hydro Green installed the first hydrokinetic turbine in the Mississippi late last year, as a first step in an ambitious plant to draw 1,600 MW of hydrokinetic power from the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.  Commercial operation of the plant had to wait until an intensive study of the impact on fish, which has just been completed by Normandeau Associates.  The study found a survival rate of over 97%.

Hydrokinetic Power

One advantage of hydrokinetic power is its scalability.  Hydro Green’s ambitious plans are at one end of the scale.  At the other end are low cost mini-turbines such as those offered by Seattle-based Hydrovolts, Inc., which can be simply dropped into canals or industrial outflows and tethered in place.  Buoy-sized wave power devices are another modestly scaled example.  Either way, both large and small hydrokinetic power installations promise the ability to draw extra power from the U.S. water supply without intensive construction or significant impact on aquatic life.

Image: howieluvzus on flickr.com. 
 
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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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  • Mark Stover

    This statement is incorrect: “as a first step in an ambitious plant to draw 1,600 MW of hydrokinetic power from the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.”

    Hydro Green Energy has no plans to develop 1,600 MW of hydrokinetic power on those rivers. That is Free Flow Power, and rather unlikely, given the paperwork filed on those projects by numerous parties, as well as the profile of those river systems.

    This statement is also incorrect: “The study found a survival rate of over 97%.”

    97.5% was a reference to pre-installation modeling. We exceeded that during testing. The report, as indicated in the news release, will be out for public review in approximately three weeks.

  • Mark Stover

    This statement is incorrect: “as a first step in an ambitious plant to draw 1,600 MW of hydrokinetic power from the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.”

    Hydro Green Energy has no plans to develop 1,600 MW of hydrokinetic power on those rivers. That is Free Flow Power, and rather unlikely, given the paperwork filed on those projects by numerous parties, as well as the profile of those river systems.

    This statement is also incorrect: “The study found a survival rate of over 97%.”

    97.5% was a reference to pre-installation modeling. We exceeded that during testing. The report, as indicated in the news release, will be out for public review in approximately three weeks.

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  • Good news! My company just released a website to encourage people NOT TO PRODUCE MORE WASTE by throwing their old things out, but to swap them! Online shopping that is CHEAP and so much fun! Help save the environment!

    http://bit.ly/onlineyardsale

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