Lucid Energy's in-pipe hydropower plant begins operation in Portland

Lucid Energy Hydroelectric Project

A Portland Water Bureau pipeline is now generating hydroelectric power for Portland General Electric customers, following the commissioning of four Lucid Energy Inc. turbine units within one of the city's major pipelines earlier this week.

The system uses four of Lucid Energy's 42-inch "LucidPipe" generating units, which are ball-shaped units installed directly into large-diameter, gravity-fed pipelines. Each has an individual output capacity between 20 and 100 kW, depending on the flow and pressure head.

Energy generated by the units will be sold under a 20-year power purchase agreement to Portland General Electric.

"PGE's goal is to be our customers' partner in helping to build a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy future for Oregon," said Brett Sims, PGE's Director of Origination, Structuring and Resource Strategy. "We're pleased to integrate new generating technologies and applications like this into our system when they offer cost-effective solutions for our customers and the environment."

The project was fully financed in October 2014 with funding from Harbourton Alternative Energy. The project will generate about US$23 million over the course of its 20-year PPA period, with PWB and Harbourton sharing the revenue.

"Water and energy are closely linked," PWB administrator David Shaff said. "The LucidPipe system provides a way for the Water Bureau to contribute to generating electricity for our community in a clean, low-cost and renewable way."

HydroWorld.com reported in March 2013 that Lucid Energy had received NSF/ANSI Standard 61 certifications for both its 24- and 42-inch LucidPipe models after testing by NSF International.

"The industry is looking to Portland as an example of how all of these entities can partner to take advantage of in-pipe hydropower to generate investment returns and reduce the cost of delivering clean, safe drinking water," Lucid Energy President and CEO Gregg Semler said.

The Portland-based company installed its first LucidPipe system in 2012 at Riverside Public Utilities' Lemona Booster Station in Riverside, Calif., and announced a partnership for a second demonstration site with the San Antonio Water System later the same year.

Lucid Energy has received funding from a number of private sources, including Israeli venture group OurCrowd, Star Energy and the Harbourton Fund, as well as more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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