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Energy recovery for sustainability




Blankenship, Joe E., author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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Electricity is one of the principal operating costs for irrigation districts. Moving water from the source of supply to the fields to be irrigated requires constant energy. The design of irrigation canals often provide for drops that are used to dissipate increments of excess energy as water accelerates along the canal due to elevation drops in the terrain. Generating electricity at these drops can provide an excellent, and generally unused, opportunity to recover some of the excess gravitational kinetic energy in moving water. Until now technology has not been available to economically recover energy from drops that of less than about 5 m. The Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage District ("BWCDD") and NatEl Energy are installing a 20 kW capacity demonstration unit of the Schneider Linear HydroEngine ("SLH") in an irrigation canal in Buckeye, Arizona. This installation has as its purpose the provision of data around reliability and durability of the SLH engine. With O&M data, BWCDD can evaluate other sites for installation of larger generating units to provide sustainable and renewable energy for the District' operation. The SLH is the only technology the District has found that provides economical and efficient recovery of the energy dissipated in irrigation canal drops In the longer term, the objective for the SLH technology is to provide large dam benefits in hydro generation with significant environmental attributes not available with high dam construction. This would involve multiple installations of the SLH in a stair-step configuration. Meanwhile, BWCDD should benefit economically with sustainable operations using its own infrastructure to generate a large portion of its electrical requirements.


Presented at Irrigation district sustainability - strategies to meet the challenges: USCID irrigation district specialty conference held on June 3-6, 2009 in Reno, Nevada.

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