Today, unlike any other time in human history, we are more under pressure to shift our way of thinking.
With the threat of climate change looming ever closer, our collective mindset has changed to an industrial way of thinking to a more ecological mindset. But clean energy has had its share of battles.
There are many skeptics ever-questioning the legitimacy of climate change. Some even think of it as an elaborate hoax. Over and over science has given proof of the urgency to act now and fast before it’s too late. Climate change should be address as a collective instead of as a fragmented group. Much of clean energy has been generated from something that already exists: wind, water, the sun, geothermal activity.
Solar energy has had great success in sunny places with relatively little rain and wind energy has flourished in coastal regions of the world where the wind is strongest.
But a new idea has been put forward, one that plumbers in Charlotte to New York have been buzzing about, and it is an idea quite revolutionary: putting turbines inside our pipes to generate clean energy from the water pressure. This means that the water that flows beneath our feet to feed our home and businesses could generate power by capturing energy that is untapped.
10 Things to Know: Turning Pipelines into Power Generators
How It Works
The idea is really rather simple and ingenious. Cities and towns usually get their water supply from a dam or water towers. The stored water behind these creates immense pressure that delivers water into every home, buildings, malls etc. around the city. Installing a turbine within the pipe will allow it to convert that pressure into electrical power through a generator and store it in batteries mounted on top of the pipe.
The stored water in dams and water towers has a huge potential energy that’s converted into mechanical energy by the turbines, which in turn gets converted into electrical energy by the generator.
With this installed in the existing system of water pipes in a city could mean a cost reduction of energy consumption. This cost saving could mean extra resources that the city could use to fund other projects or to add more turbines in the pipes to provide more clean energy to residents.
“New” Old Technology
Generating power through water pressure is not a new technology. For hundreds of years, towns and cities have relied on this for their power need. The same principle is used in giant dams to generate power. Only, instead of building-size generators, the technology is scaled down somewhat and distributed across strategic points across the water pipe system. The normally unused power of water pressure can now be tapped to generate electricity for hundreds and even thousands of homes.
Retrofitting existing pipes with power generating turbines has many huge benefits. For one, it greatly reduces the carbon footprint of the city. Climate change has completely changed our idea of how we should live our lives. A hundred years ago just as the dawn of the industrial revolution brightened human society, everyone was over eager to maximize the benefits it offers without thinking too much of the consequences.
As a result, we live in a world scarred and damaged and in danger of collapsing because of our callousness and carelessness. For humanity to still have a future, old ways should be forgotten and new ways adopted. Clean energy that’s environmentally responsible is one such step. It is not the only solution but it is a big arrow in our quiver against climate change.
Cheaper Than Solar or Wind
Compared to other clean energy generation, installing turbines in pipes is also relatively cheap. There won’t be any need to scrap the whole water pipe system. One section of a pipeline could be removed and replaced with another one that has the turbine, one of the best generators in the market, and batteries to store power.
Compared to installing huge arrays of solar panels, or erecting gigantic monuments of wind turbines, the cost of retrofitting a pipe will be significantly lower.
An Answer to Pollution
We live in an ever polluted world. Our traditional way of creating energy has caused our atmosphere to be almost unbreathable and unhealthy. Numerous respiratory sicknesses have risen in recent decades all attributed to the rise of noxious gas that power stations have been spewing for the past hundred years.
While other forms of renewable energy are doing their part, turning turbines into power generators could greatly help in lowering air pollution. It creates clean energy without disrupting the wildlife; nor does it emit greenhouse gasses.
Towns with high water need and water towers and/or dams can efficiently capture the water pressure that flows in the pipes and turns it into electrical energy using this plan. The higher the source of the water, the more electricity is created. Installing these turbines in strategic locations like on the foot of a hill or near a dam or water tower could make them create more power efficiently.
This way, a whole city or town can lessen the strain on power stations and can even give back power to the grid if the electricity they created exceeds their consumption. More turbines installed could mean being independent of the fluctuating and sometimes unreliable energy supply that the power grid offers.
In Agricultural Areas
This plan could be applied to the agricultural area where the need for constant and reliable water supply to irrigate crops is high. Fitting these turbines in the pipes could lower the cost of energy for the farm. Agricultural pipes are easy to retrofit because they’re not buried too deep in the ground and little disruption takes place.
Buildings in an urban environment have more than 20 floors which mean that the water pressure is very high. It flows from top to bottom and usually peaks in the morning when people get ready for their day. Power could be created this time and stored for later use.
The drawback for this system is it could disrupt the lives of residents. Digging the pipes under the streets to be retrofitted with turbines could be disruptive to the daily lives of residents. A whole street would have to be closed for a few days for one pipe to be fitted with a turbine and the city has to do this on multiple pipelines. This would also mean that homes would have to go without water for a few days at a time as the installation takes place.
For Humanity’s Sake
The threat of climate change doesn’t seem to abate unless we do something drastic to curb its approach. All forms of clean energy generation have its drawback, no doubt, but collectively they far outweigh the dwindling benefits of continually using non-renewable energy.
Fighting climate change, therefore, should not be seen as a national crisis, or even a global crisis. It should be seen as a humanitarian crisis. This won’t affect one group or another; it will affect us all in ways we’ve never seen before. It’s time to put our differences on the side and work as one to solve this problem.
When all is said and done, the decision to apply this technology boils down to the residents and politicians in the city. They would have to make the call after weighing down the pros and cons of undergoing such endeavor.