A start-up that installs small turbines in irrigation canals to generate electricity has raised $18.4 million to scale up its technology and produce carbon-free hydroelectric power.
Emrgy CEO and founder Emily Morris said seeing the vast network of fast-flowing U.S. irrigation infrastructure inspired her to create electricity in places that, to some, were unlikely. said. For the U.S. Reclamation Service alone he operates 1,600 miles of major canals.
In the same way that installing solar power on roofs avoids land disturbances, using existing canals eliminates the need to install water turbines in the natural environment.
“Our infrastructure represents a new sector in renewable energy real estate,” Morris said in an interview.
Irrigation canals in the United States are made of concrete or stone and carry water from the main source to the fields. The Emrgy unit is like a propeller whose blades rotate parallel to the ground. water In canals, instead of damming water, it rotates them and then flows. Emrgy works closely with water utilities because the spinning turbines change the way water flows through the canal, slowing it down.
Emrgy’s installations are very small in the commercial sense, between 2 and 10 megawatts. But that’s nearly enough to power a neighborhood or a small campus.
According to engineering professor emeritus John Gulliver, it “could represent a significant amount of electricity.” University of Minnesotagiven miles of canal.
The facility consists of modules that each produce between 5 and 25 kilowatts, but just as solar companies don’t put a single solar panel on a roof, Morris said they deploy a single turbine. It is not.
“We need everything we can get from renewable energy sources, so I think this energy generation makes sense,” said Dan Reicher, a senior fellow in the Sustainability Department at Stanford University. It also has less impact on the environment, he said.
Engineering professor Daniel Kirschen said, University of Washington said the same thing. “If you can generate reasonable amounts of electricity from them, it’s very useful,” he said.
Traditional large-scale hydropower projects have faced scrutiny for their environmental impacts, including flooding communities, slowing rivers, and inhibiting fish migration. Some have been demolished. On the other hand, as long as it rains or snows, they produce a huge amount of energy.
The Emrgy system connects to the grid in the same way as distributed wind or solar power. In some cases, power lines run along the canal. They can be installed quickly without long permits.
“Over the last few years, I have seen how solar power has come to dominate the renewable energy mix,” said Morris. “We know that the faster we can generate new power, the greater our impact and the more we can grow.”
Emrgy’s system is currently in use at Denver Water in the Oakdale Irrigation District. California, a district of Salt Lake City and a district of New Zealand. The company is piloting in South Africa and is expanding.
$18.4 million will be used to hire more people, develop the project and open the first assembly facility in Aurora, Colorado.
The anti-inflation law signed last fall is helping. This provides incentives for US-based clean energy manufacturing. Emrgy obtains a 10% tax credit for the procurement of machinery and components in the United States and a 30% federal investment tax credit for renewable energy development.
“It’s definitely a renewable resource that needs to be tapped and it’s great that they have an economic solution,” Kirschen said.
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https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-water-university-of-minnesota-university-of-washington-california-b2319485.html Mini-hydro company raises $18 million to generate electricity on canals