Energy generation in the water network

Wednesday, 11 March, 2015

Unitywater is working with renewable energy producer NextEra Energy to install two micro hydroelectric generators into the water network. The pressure reduction generators (PRGs), developed by NextEra Energy, will capture lost energy and convert it into renewable electricity.

Unitywater Manager Technologies Barry Holcroft explained, “The generators are being placed within the water network where water pressure has to be reduced to ensure that it is suitable for use in local homes and businesses.

“A by-product of reducing this pressure is dissipated energy, which is simply ‘burned off’ in the forms of noise, heat and vibration.”

By harnessing this energy for electricity generation, the project is expected to produce about 1.7 GWh per year. This is “the equivalent of powering 212 Sunshine Coast homes for a year”, according to Holcroft, who said Unitywater will sell the electricity to help offset the company’s energy costs.

NextEra Energy CEO Paul Camilleri said the company and its investors are funding the project because of Unitywater’s commitment to a long-term partnership arrangement. NextEra Energy will share a percentage of generated revenue with Unitywater, which will meanwhile assess additional locations across its network where similar technologies could be implemented.

“The opportunities for us to install these turbines within water pipelines across Australia are endless,” said Camilleri. “And who knows - maybe one day the water from your taps may even be able to power your house.”

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