Hydroelectric Power through the harnessing of Water (**SAGE)

Bruce Nicholson, spoke on SAGE (**Safe and Appropriate Green Energy) at the CCSAGE Annual General Meeting held Sunday, March 31, at Waring House in Picton, Ontario.  The following is his presentation:

Today, I wish to speak to you on the subject of hydroelectric power through the Harnessing of Water.

An article by Gary May in the Summer 2012 issue of Watershed magazine entitled “MPP Rob Milligan’s Small Idea”, caught my interest as we were suffering the impact of the Green Energy Act. Rob was the MPP for Northumberland-Quinte West from 2011 to 2014.

Waterpower was the key to the establishment of Ontario’s industrial heartland with the introduction of grist mills along river ways.

In the 1950’s, a new philosophy took hold: bigger is better. Since then there has been a move away from small community generating stations where some 300 hydroelectric plants have been shut down. 

Mr. Milligan’s idea was to resurrect some of the old generating sites that had been cast aside and mothballed. In 2012, there were 14 power stations in his riding producing 71 megawatts of hydroelectric power, enough to satisfy between 42,000 to 56,000 average homes. Most of these are on the Trent/Severn and nearby rivers.

In the article, Rob claimed that there were 45 other sites, that if utilized, could produce another 25 megawatts. Of those, about 36 were already developed as mill sites.

Todd Masse of Water Power Group of Companies claims to have identified 2,300 potential sites across Ontario. “Low-head” is a term given to short drops, locations where water falls less than 5 meters. Across Canada, there are approximately 10,000 low-head dams and hydraulic structures that have been built for flood control, water supply and irrigation.

That is a potential for 10,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 6 to 8 million homes.

Modern technology have seen the introduction of “fish friendly” generators to dramatically reduce fish mortality.

A typical grist mill on any number of rivers across eastern Ontario could be converted to produce 100 kilowatts of power annually.

From Renewable Energy World’s website, “run-of-the-river” hydropower could potentially be the answer to the renewable energy needs.This concept utilizes technology by diverting the river flow through turbines before returning the water back to the river downstream. Their focus is on new, low-impact hydropower generation at existing non-powered dams with as little modification to the dam as possible.

According to Mark Stover of Hydro Green Energy of Illinois , “when utilities start comparing our output to that of small wind and medium-sized solar projects…they realize that we are generating much more power and power that is reliable and predictable”.

The reservoir methodology is also one that is growing in support.

Water is released from an elevated reservoir through turbines and captured in a lower level reservoir. When demand for electric is significantly below peak, such as night time, the water is pumped back up to the elevated reservoir awaiting the next cycle of activity. 

A Hydro-Quebec study showed that when all costs are averaged over the lifetime of the facilities, hydroelectricity is 8 times less expensive than wind energy.

Harnessing tidal power

In a July 2018 article in The Guardian, Damian Carrington sheds light on the devices which promise to unlock the Moon’s vital energy potential.

To quote him “the ocean energy sector is frothing with ideas, with hundreds of companies developing an extraordinary array of devices and backed by billions of dollars of investment.”

A coalition of 25 ocean-faring nations, called Ocean Energy Systems, estimates a global potential for wave and tidal energy of 750 Giga-Watts by 2050 . This is almost twice today’s global nuclear capacity.

Tidal and wave energy production doubled in 2017and increasing annually.

OpenHydro, already deployed in the Bay of Fundy, utilizes giant 16 meter hoops with inward-pointing blades. 

There are vertical turbines that spin like a carousel, such as Hydroquest in France and LHD in China.

Tidal energy has the advantage of being precisely predictable years ahead.

It offers ocean-faring nations, a homegrown supply fo energy while cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Capturing wave power is even more challenging.

Some examples in use today include: 

– Wedge Global which use buoys that bounce up and down on a pole, like a pogo stick

– A Finnish vessel, the Penguin, which gyrates with the waves to

convert the back and forth movement of water to electricity. 

– Paddles are being deployed in a number of devices such a the WaveRoller and Wave Piston. 

It is encouraging that investment and research into the harnessing of water power is growing. The future is not so bleak !

Posted on April 1, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. One reason that 300 hydroelectric generating stations are no longer operating is that waterpower produces intermittent and unreliable power generation. Run-of-river facilities might achieve installed capacity during the spring freshet, but as flows dissipate so does power generation, to the point where the facility will likely be shut down during the low flow summer, fall and winter seasons.

    Hydroelectric facilities are expensive to build, and carry a high environmental cost, especially when reservoirs are used to hold water back to produce power during peak demand hours. Hydroelectric turbines chop up fish and dams block migration of fish to habitat and spawning areas. Hydroelectric using reservoirs results in fluctuating water levels, erosion, sedimentation and degraded water quality – to mention only a few.

    An Ontario Rivers Alliance report, Hydro Impacts 101: The Trade-offs, identifies some of the environmental impacts that can and do occur at dams and waterpower facilities. It will become clear that hydroelectric is seldom clean or green, and that some rivers should not be dammed at all. You can read the report here:

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