Lost Energy Converted Into Big Savings at Colorado Water Treatment Plant
A new, pre-fabricated hydroelectric generation package is making it easier than ever for municipal, industrial, and agricultural organizations to convert the energy created by their existing water distribution systems into lower electricity bills, or added revenue.
“Traditionally, the built-up energy generated by man-made water distribution systems, such as pipes, canals, or irrigation lines, has been ‘burned off’ as an unwanted by-product,” explained Nathan Smith, P.Eng., SOAR Hydropower (SOAR). “That seemed like a missed opportunity to SOAR, so we came up with a ‘conduit hydropower’ system to capture and convert the lost energy into electricity. It works very much like ‘run-of-river’ hydro projects, but without the negative environmental impact or lengthy licensing requirements.”
Recently, ICONIX Waterworks partnered with SOAR to create a complete pre-fabricated hydro power generation package including panels, valves, turbine, and pre-cast vault. Providing a fully contained unit to the vendor cuts design, construction, and post-installation costs, while reducing the time needed to integrate the power generation system into the existing infrastructure.
One of the first organizations to benefit from the pre-fabricated package is the Soldier Canyon Water Filtration Plant in Fort Collins, Colorado. The water treatment plant draws water from the nearby Horsetooth Reservoir, which sits higher than the facility. As a result of the elevation drop, the inflow process generates tremendous water pressure, which is then dissipated, or “burned off” by a 36-inch sleeve valve.
Now, Soldier Canyon is installing a pre-fabricated hydroelectric generation system next to the existing sleeve valve, which will generate power while reducing water pressure. The hydro turbine will operate when plant flow rates are at or above 10.7 cubic feet per second, which is more than 90% of the time. Once installed, the hydroelectric system is expected to produce up to 890,000 kWh per year, or enough power to offset the treatment plant’s current annual electricity consumption.