Portland’s Pipes Turn Water Into Electricity

In true Portland fashion, the city outfitted new water pipes with turbines to create green energy.
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In true Portland fashion, the city outfitted new water pipes with turbines to create green energy.

It should come as no surprise that liberal city Portland, Oregon, is pioneering renewable energy sources. But while other cities are investing in solar and wind energy, the rainy town has turned to water to power its homes.

The city recently partnered up with Lucid Energy to replace a portion of Portland’s old pipes with new steel ones outfitted with 3.5-foot turbines. The flowing water causes the turbines to spin and power generators. This converted electricity feeds back into Portland’s electrical grid. The city is starting small, with this first installation producing enough energy to power 150 homes each year.

Switching out the city’s pipes sounds like an expensive endeavor, but it’ll save money in the long run. Water doesn’t just magically show up in your sink ready to drink. And while you might prefer filtered or bottled, a considerable amount of energy is required to produce consumable water. Lucid has a 20-year agreement to sell the power back to city, with the income used to ease the burden of bringing running water into homes.

And since water runs through city pipes constantly, this alternative source could be a more reliable source of energy. Unlike solar and wind, hydropower is not dependent on weather to do its work, notes Lucid Energy CEO Gregg Semler.

With the City of Roses at the forefront of hydropower, Lucid now has its sights set on projects in California, Arizona and Las Vegas. This system will work best in hilly West and East Coast cities, Next City reports. The flat landscapes of the Midwest are not only a drag for skiing, but without gravity pushing water down through the turbines, they may not create enough power to fuel the generators. 

Learn more about  Lucid Energy’s turbines in the video below:

Top photo courtesy of Lucid Energy’s Facebook page