Energy Downhill

Tuesday 19th March 2013

When dealing with a site of natural significance, such as a National Park, sustainability moves up to a whole new level. The beautiful natural environment means that great sensitivity needs to be practiced in, for example, installing renewable energy.

In Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. a new microhydro project went on line back in December with very little impact on the park - in fact no impact at all.

The energy is generated from the water flowing through an existing pipe, that transports water down to the Mammoth Hot Springs village, where there is accommodation and the park HQ.

The generator and turbine can produce 240 kW and has been built into a new electrical station at the storage reservoir inlet. Annually, allowing for downtime, Yellowstone will get about 1.2 million kWh that may trim as much as $73,000 off their electric bill.

The hydro system used is 19th century technology, called a Pelton wheel, which has spoon shaped buckets, split in the middle to divide the water into two streams. It doesn’t use the weight of water for energy, it extracts energy from the force of the water, making it ideal in situations when a lot of water is being moved down hill swiftly.

The Pelton wheel turns the water almost 180 degrees, which captures most of the energy, allowing it to spin at a very high rate, again enabling it to generate energy efficiently, while the water flow to the village is hardly affected.

So a beautiful and dramatic landscape can be enjoyed, with much of the energy for guest service generated sustainably.

Picture of Fort Yellowstone from the terraces of Mammoth Hot springs by Anusia1984 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Categories: General, Renewable, Technology

Tuesday 19th March 2013

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