A recent article about renewable energy in Louisiana proposed quite a fascinating scenario, especially considering all the oil currently leaking into the Gulf. Electricity-generating turbines are being considered for placement in the Mississippi River. They are similar in concept to wind power
turbines, but they use the natural flowing currents of water to spin their components and generate electricity. A related article reported, “These turbines potentially could create enough energy to power the city of New Orleans.”
Permits have been granted to study the placement of turbines at points within the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. Some of the locations are Manchac Point, Duncan Point and Greenville Bend. Free Flow Power is the name of the company studying the placement and energy potential. They say their turbines can generate, 10kW in a 2.25m/s flow and 40kW in a 3m/s flow.
Turbines would be mounted on the river bottom or suspended from barges where the fastest currents are. Part of the preliminary study is to evaluate potential for damage to fish populations and to dredging work done by the engineers who maintain the rivers for commercial navigation. Reportedly the overall project could cost $3 billion, and utilize clusters of turbines at various sites. If everything is approved and goes smoothly, turbine installation could begin in 2012.
Energy from wave and current technologies has been said to have a potential of about 10% of national energy demand.
The first commercial hydro-kinetic river turbine was installed in the Mississsippi River near Hastings, Minnesota. It began operating in mid 2009. A study indicated the turbine caused virtually no damage to local fish when functioning in the river, “Only one fish out of the 402 that were introduced into the hydrokinetic unit showed evidence of direct physical harm (0.002%)”
Image Credit: kiril106