A massive amount of energy is wasted in water distribution systems, and HydroLinq, a new company, has come along to make recovery of that energy a reality. It looks like a big opportunity.
The idea is similar to a common practice in the gas pipeline industry, where turbines or expanders are used to reduce pressure from long haul pipelines as the gas enters distribution systems. This not only solves a problem of severe cooling of the gas in expansion valves, it also generates a considerable amount of electricity in the process.
As one water company person said, “we’ve been burning head here forever.” But power generation isn’t usually on the minds of water companies (except at the dams that hold their reservoirs, or when they build their own fossil plants), even though they’re big power users themselves. As far as we can find, the opportunity has never been exploited to any significant degree.
Major hydro-engineering firms have looked at this before, but have chosen not to pursue it, preferring their traditional large-scale projects over lots of little ones. They’ve even expressed interest in supporting HydroLinq in their endeavors. HydroLinq is focusing on units ranging from 100KW to 2 MW.
In most water systems, water arrives in large pipes and at high pressure. This pressure is let down through a pressure release valve, or simply dropped into a regulating basin (reservoir). The idea is to install a mini-hydro turbine and power plant in parallel with the valve or at the end of the pipe to the reservoir, and generate power.
– Huge quantities, sites widely distributed in 1000’s of cities, towns and facilities. A feasibility study for the water district in San Jose CA identified 6 cost-effective sites, totaling 1.6 MW. There are over 2500 water utilities in the US.
– Truly “renewable” (at a time when suppliers are unable to find enough renewable power at any price to meet mandates, e.g. portfolio standards)
– A truly renewable distributed generation technology that can be deployed in urban and industrial settings
– High availability (80-100%)
– Very cost-effective (4-6 ¢/kWh – easily competitive with the grid)
– Rapid payback (18 – 36 months)
– Short leadtime (8-12 months max. Simple infrastructure, and no “earth moving”)
– No environmental or siting issues (except perhaps utility interconnection)
– Built-in likely customer for power (the water company itself)
HydroLinq is rapidly establishing itself as the creator and leader of this new industry, with a complete solution approach which provides feasibility analysis, planning, engineering, installation, and operation. While the idea is simple, implementation is not–no two sites will be exactly alike. HydroLinq has the first-mover advantage, having assembled the key partnerships, know-how, and technology packages (some of it patented) that will enable them to deliver systems faster and cheaper than any new entrant could hope for.
Going further, HydroLinq sees more big opportunities in wastewater systems and many process industries–wherever large quantities of liquids –not just water — undergo pressure drops.
The scope is huge–nationally and internationally. Preliminary estimates put the total available resource just for municipal water systems in the US alone at over 12 GW. HydroLinq recognizes the need to license, partner and joint-venture to establish a presence quickly in as many markets as possible, and is actively seeking both partners and equity investors. One joint venture is already poised to begin the installation this summer of two systems in Australia. Several other projects are in the formative stages, and require working capital. This is not “just” project development; it is the start of an entirely new industry.
A business plan and other materials are available under an NDA.
Contact: Thomas Cripe, President
HydroLinq Energy Corp., Issaquah, WA