Denver Water installs hydro project on canal.

After years of careful planning and precise calculations, the first-ever use of hydropower in a shallow, slow-moving waterway in Colorado will soon be ready for business, Denver Water has announced.

Work is underway in earnest on a project that will see Denver Water place 10 turbines in a section of a 9 mile-long canal that extends from Gross Dam to Ralston Reservoir, at a cost of about $330,000. In total, each turbine will have the potential to generate about 80MWh a year in continuous operation.

“We already have seven hydropower plants in our system, mostly at our dams,” said Ian Oliver, Denver Water source of supply manager. “This project is a new, sustainable way to generate energy and help offset power consumption costs.

“We’re looking to the future to be able to expand our hydroelectric capabilities, and this is really the forefront of that effort.”

The first turbine, from Emrgy Inc, was recently installed on the canal via a giant crane.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Emily Morris, CEO of Emrgy Inc. “To see this first turbine installed is an incredible milestone.”

While another Emrgy turbine has been installed in a treatment plant in Atlanta, Georgia, this is the first time this technology has been placed in an array. Experts say this configuration will help extract as much energy as possible from the water in the canal.

With more than 75 miles of canals in the Denver Water system, Oliver says there’s a lot of opportunity to tap into the flow of water to generate electricity. Denver Water hopes to use the technology throughout its water collection, treatment and distribution system in the future.

“This concept could be replicated not just here in the United States, but also across the world,” Emrgy’s Morris said. “This is a game-changer.”

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