Recovering Energy from Water Pressure

Recovering energy from infrastructure has long been an area of opportunity that has only recently gained wide attention.

One of the early proponents of recovering energy from the daily functions of the city is Oregon’s InPipe Energy. Reprogramming the City followers will know we’ve written about them before, and feature them in our book.

InPipe deserves some more attention now, having just launched their new In-PRV (pressure recovery valve) as an integral piece of infrastructure to generate power for the city of Hillsboro, Oregon.

The In-PRV leverages what was once an incredibly inefficient piece of water engineering: reducing the pressure of water as it transferred from the main pipes to residential and commercial buildings.

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“Utilities typically use a lot of energy pumping water over long distances,” says Eric Heilema, Water Department Engineering Manager, City of Hillsboro, Oregon. “The water is at a high pressure, too high for typical domestic and commercial uses, so the pressure is reduced via friction. In this case, we are using a hydroelectric turbine [the In-PRV] to provide that friction and capture the electricity.”

Hillsboro’s “in-coduit hydropower project,” the In-PRV will generate up to 200,000 kWh of electricity per year – the equivalent of the energy use of 20 homes – and will save more than 162,000 pounds of carbon annually.

The Hillsboro installation is one step for a local authority, and part of the giant leap of recovering energy and improving the efficiency and longevity of water infrastructure everywhere.

Gregg Semler, President and CEO of InPipe Energy, says, “Water is the most important resource on the planet, but water agencies all over the world are struggling with aging infrastructure, and rising costs. Water is extremely energy intensive, so as the cost of energy rises, so does the cost of water.”

By converting wasted water pressure into energy that can be used for operations or routed to the grid, InPipe is always on the radar of Reprogramming the City as a company spearheading ways of recovering energy from infrastructure and helping cities do more with the assets they already have.

A video overview of the project is below: