Energy recovery potential using micro hydropower in water supply networks in the UK and Ireland

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The supply and treatment of water is a highly energy intensive process, resulting in large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions as well as incurring large economic costs. Both governments and water service providers worldwide recognise the need for more sustainable water supply systems. In recent years, the use of hydropower turbines within water supply networks has been shown as a viable option for electricity generation. Energy can be recovered in water supply networks at locations of excessively high flow or pressure without loss in the level of service to consumers. The control of pressure to prevent burst pipes and to maintain a reliable water supply service is a top priority for water service providers. This paper presents the results of an analysis of the potential of hydropower energy recovery within water distribution systems in the UK and Ireland. Pressure and flow data were analysed to determine the extent of the potential for energy recovery. The effect of flow rate variation on turbine selection and efficiency was investigated, as well as investment payback period. It was concluded that the sustainability of water supply can be improved through the implementation of small-scale hydropower turbines within water supply networks.

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