New technology makes electricity from pressure in water pipes
Utah has untapped energy sitting in the water pipes. Modern cities have built massive systems to deliver water to your tap. When building out the waters system, the only thing they thought about was getting the water delivered efficiently. Today, with our focus on creating cleaner energy, the untapped potential in the pipes is being explored.
Water pressure in the pipes has the potential to create electricity. If you have built a home, you know that a pressure reducer is often required so your pipes don’t burst. The same is true for large pipes that deliver water to the city and your neighborhood. At the point where the pressure is reduced, where all that pressure is contained behind a wall, there is tremendous potential for energy production.
The concept is pretty simple. If you can turn a turbine, you can create electricity. Moving water can turn a turbine.
Most cities and towns require pumping that water to a water tower and through treatment facilities. All this requires electricity to move the water higher, and yet, there is still the possibility to lower the energy use by tapping the pressure created when it moves back down.
In Utah, almost all our water runs downhill. Taking advantage of this pipe energy could have big benefits. The pressure built up by gravity bringing water down from the mountains could be used to create power at the point where the pressure builds.
There are countries and cities looking at this new technology. India is building out their water systems and are including electrical creation in the design. Portland is already using the potential in the pipes to create power as well as some cities in California.
I talked to the Water Conservancy District in Southern Utah. Water is used to create hydroelectric power in dams, of course, but they were unaware of any cities taking advantage of the water in the pipes. I think it’s a pretty cool concept, but there may be costs to retrofitting an existing system that may prohibitive.