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Directory:River Energy

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Directory of technologies that harness the power of rivers, outside of dam technologies.



A plausible, fairly constant source of energy under certain criteria. River needs to have fairly fast flow (e.g. 3-4 knots). Turbines need to be able to withstand debris and ice. Slow turbine speed required to be fish friendly. Proximity to power users preferred to avoid losses in transmission. Ability to rotate with direction of current.

  • Hydro > Run-of-the-River / Pumped Storage >
    This is Big: U.S. Could Double Hydropower Capacity with Minimal Impact - U.S. Energy Sec. says that hydropower capacity in the U.S. could "double with minimal impact to the environment", mostly just by installing more efficient turbines at existing hydroelectric projects or at dams without power components, increasing the use of pumped-storage projects, and encouraging the use of run-of-the-river turbines. (TreeHugger; Nov. 12, 2009)

Do It Yourself

  • Wild Water Power - do it yourself video for an easy to build, cheap, off the shelf, overshot waterwheel: 1 kw. Also working on a new design that uses the kinetic energy of rivers to create electricity.


  • Zotloterer Gravitational Vortex Power Plant - Mini-power plant is simple to construct, has a turbine efficiency of 80% but is safe for fish due to low turbine speed. The gravitational vortex hydro technology can be applied with water drop as little as 0.7 meters. The cost for installation of the prototype was close to $1/watt capacity.
  • Venturi System Optimizes Water Flow Harnessing - Patented venturi containment system increases turbine efficiency 3.85 times what the turbine would produce without the system, making this a world leading design. The company is now commencing the commercialization stage, with an expected price that competes with coal in the range of 3.5 to 6 cents per kw-h.
  • Verdant River/Tide Energy Technology - Verdant Power is a world leader in commercializing low-impact kinetic hydropower solutions, harnessing the energy from river, tide, and man-made channels. Prototype array is presently producing power for customers. (Renewable Energy Access; New York; April 19, 2005) The RITE project
  • Neo-AeroDynamic Wind/Water Turbine - The patent-pending turbine for wind and water, invented by Phi Tran, employs lift on the leeward edge, harnessing the turbulence that usually impedes efficiency. The price point is expected to be better than fossil-fuel-generated electricity, even in low wind areas, making it ideal for city/urban roof top and back yard settings.
  • Underwater Electric Kite (UEK) Corporation - Low impact hydrokinetic turbines harness tide and river flow, without harming aquiatic life, requiring no dam or impoundment. Commercial energy generation cost estimated at between 1.8 and 2.8 cents per kW-h. (PESWiki; Apr. 25, 2006)
  • Directory:Mixing Sea and River Water - Devices based on a natural process -- when a river runs into the ocean, a huge amount of energy is unleashed because of the difference in salt concentration.



  • Hydrokinetic > Run-of-the-River >
    Turbines Could Tap the Mississippi's Power - Tens of thousands of turbines anchored to the bottom of the Mississippi River could someday provide more than a gigawatt of renewable energy, enough to power a quarter of a million homes. That's the vision of Free Flow Power, a startup based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. (MIT Technology Review; Nov. 5, 2010)
  • Bourne Energy - Bourne Energy's RiverStarMP - A fresh approach to hydropower. The RiverStarMP system power modules collect kinetic energy from rivers, passing the water through low RPM turbines that don’t harm aquaculture. (GizMag; March 5, 2008) (Thanks RLP)
  • Slow Moving Water, Inc - Company presents a floating barge with turbines around the perimeter to harness the energy of the water flowing by. Rather than try to enter the electricity utility business, they produce electricity by-products, such as hydrogen and distilled water.
  • Cloudworks Energy - Run-of-River projects are dramatically different in design, appearance and impact from conventional hydroelectric projects. There is no water storage other than the limited amount required to submerge the intake pipe. Second, there is no alteration of downstream flows, since all diverted water is returned to the stream below the powerhouse.
  • Community Hydro -Works with municipalities, schools, businesses and industry to install small, low-impact hydroelectric turbines at existing dams and damless diversion structures. They specialize in generating power from municipal water systems and wastewater treatment facilities.
  • Free Flow Power - They are developing run-of-river electricity generation facilities made up of numerous turbine arrays connected to common shore power interconnect stations. Individual turbines can be combined in various combinations to suit each particular installation.
  • Hydro Green Energy - A for-profit renewable energy project developer and integrator that designs, builds, and operates kinetic hydro power projects that generate electricity exclusively from moving water (river currents, tidal currents, and ocean currents) without having to construct dams, impoundments, conduits, or other infrastructure projects.
  • Hydromax Energy - Small run-of-river projects are free from many of the environmental problems associated with large-scale dam hydropower projects because they use the natural flow of the river, and thus produce relatively little change in the stream channel and flow. A portion of a river's water is diverted to a channel or pipeline that delivers it to a waterwheel or turbine.
  • npower renewables - UK renewable energy company developing run-of-river hydro projects in some of the most beautiful landscapes where environment and safety issues are major priorities. A fish pass can be incorporated into the weir design so that fish can continue to travel up and down the river.
  • Plutonic Power - Non-storage (run of river) hydroelectric is one of the most environmentally friendly and commercially viable sources of electricity generation available. Plutonic Power's projects have been located on streams with natural waterfalls that act as barriers, thus greatly minimizing negative impacts on fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Run of River Power - Independent producer of clean, environmentally friendly, renewable energy. "Run of River" power is hydro-electric energy created when water is diverted from a stream through a pipe to spin a turbine, which creates electricity. The water is then re-directed back onto the river further downstream.


  • Introduction to Run-Of-River Hydro - All Run-Of-River Systems Have The Same Main Components: Diversion and intake collect the water; Penstock transports the water to the turbine; Turbine and generator convert the kinetic and potential energy in the water to electrical energy. (Renewable Energy)
  • Canadian Hydro Developers - Low-impact or “run-of-river" hydro is usually integrated into irrigation drop structures. The benefits of this technology include minimal storage of water and flooding, and protection of fish, wildlife and cultural resources. Schematic of how run-of-river hydro works.

Other Technologies

  • Markovic SP River Pump - The Solvenian Pump (SP) system works in slow and shallow moving rivers to pump water for irrigation, pump air into the water to oxygenate and clean up a river or to pump water to drive an electric generator. (PESWIki; Oct. 10, 2008)
  • Oxford Unveils Next-Gen Underwater Turbines - A group of engineers at Oxford have been tinkering away on a design that promises to be even more powerful and efficient and recently introduced an innovative Transverse Horizontal Axis Water Turbine (THAWT) that will not only collect more energy, but require 60% lower manufacturing costs and 40% lower maintenance costs. (Inhabitat; Sept. 10, 2008)
  • Vortex Hydro Energy - VIVACE (Vortex Induced Vibrations Aquatic Clean Energy) extracts energy from ocean, river, tidal and other water currents over a wide range of current speeds. It is non-obtrusive, environmentally friendly, and has an extremely high energy density (50x less acreage required than wave power). A working prototype has met expectations, leading to a multi-kilowatt field demonstration.
  • Hydro Green Energy - Builds and operates kinetic hydro power projects that generate electricity from moving water (river currents, tidal currents, and ocean currents) without having to construct dams or other infrastructure. Hydropower Turbine Arrays are inexpensive to manufacture, can be designed for different types of conditions and produce the lowest cost hydropower commercially available.
  • Ing Arvid Nesheim - The MultiEnergy Device with waterturbine captures the kinetic energy in waves, ocean currents, rivers and streams and converts the energy into electricity. Moreover, the device can be equipped with a heat pump to convert the thermal energy in the ocean into useful energy.
  • Optimset Turbo - Low cost vertical axis underwater turbine with sinkable and floatable blades, and an inlet water flow accelerator, surpasses the efficiencies of other fluid driven turbines. It can be used in low stream velocities, deep or shallow water, unidirectional (river) and bidirectional (tidal) currents. (Thanks Edouard Petrounevitch)
  • New Energy Corporation Inc. - NECI's EnCurrent Turbine enables the extraction of electricity from water currents without the need for the dams and barrages. Slowly rotating turbine blades virtually eliminates fish kill and bi-directional operation enables the economic extraction of power in tidal applications.

In the News

  • Earn Your Keep, Mississippi - Free Flow Power, wants to generate hydropower on the Mississippi seabed without disrupting shipping traffic or, they say, upsetting local ecosystems with possibly 160,000 turbines. (Plenty Mag; April 4, 2008)
  • U.S. on the Verge of a Small Hydro Boom? - Community Hydro develops energy recovery systems for municipal water treatment facilities, upgrades old mill dams into electrical generation facilities and installs damless diversion systems, “are the way to go" for the least environmental impact. (Renewable Energy World; March 17, 2008)
  • GE Run-of-River Hydroelectric Project - GE Energy Financial Services will invest in a 196-megawatt run-of-river hydroelectric project in Canada, developed by Plutonic Power. The project includes a 90-mile long transmission line for interconnection to the power grid. Unlike traditional hydro, run-of-river projects do not require damming of water. (Renewable Energy Access; May 30, 2007)
  • River Power Rises - Hydro Green Energy plans to have a pair of barge-mounted turbines pumping electricity from under the Mississippi River. A dozen generators on riverbeds in fast-moving water could produce up to 250 MW, as much electricity as a small coal-fired plant--without the greenhouse-gas emissions. (Time; Oct. 29, 2006)
  • Canada Opens New Run-of-River Hydro Facility - With construction complete, water is spiraling down 145 meters of tubing to spin turbines at a new 25 MW "run-of-river" hydroelectric project in British Columbia. With no dam to alter the river's flow, the design attempts to mitigate the environmental concerns traditionally associated with commercial dam-based hydro projects. (Renewable Energy Access; Nov. 2, 2005)


See also


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