Hydrokinetic Rocks! 4/7/2010 8:19:01 AM

Hydrokinetic projects produce power from moving water without the use of a dam, and they include wave energy systems and in-stream turbines, which can capture the energy from tidal flows or the flow of a river.

The Seattle-based company Hydrovolts, Inc. has discovered an economical way to tap waterways for hydroelectricity. Rather than damming mighty rivers or installing turbines in unpredictable oceans, the company has aimed its sights on a much smaller target: placid canals and other managed-flow water courses. Even at low flows, a predictable and reliable current is more than enough to power the company’s unique Flipwing Turbine. Though small in scale, the simple and relatively affordable turbine could go a long way toward meeting the electrical needs of local communities as well as farms, factories, and other facilities.

With its emphasis on modest scale, affordability, local use, and simplicity, Hydrovolts shares an outlook with small hydropower companies which has developed a buoy-sized wave power harvester. The company envisions a system that can be scaled up by networking small units, rather than constructing one massive installation. Compared to ambitious ocean power project, the Flipwing technology is affordable and accessible to small communities and individual sites.

Other companies that specialize in hydrokinetic power, such as Verdant Power and Hydro Green Energy, have been going long with projects on major rivers including the Mississippi River and New York City’s East River.

 If the technology proves cost effective, it could join onsite solar power in the sustainable energy toolkit of numerous facilities including military and government as well as commercial enterprises and non-profit institutions.

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