Portland is installing turbines in their water pipes to generate electricity. Available for 24 inch or 42 inch pipes, excellent for gravity fed water supply.
This got me thinking about our city applications. Would it be worthwhile for someone at city hall to look into possible applications for Red Deer?
If Red Deer had a guaranteed year round source of flowing water, should we harness it for Hydroelectricity? What if we had a flow rate that was only strong enough to power city buildings? Should we investigate it? If we knew parts of the equation could we not ask?
City Councillor Buck Buchanan thinks it should be looked into. Why?
The city has a guaranteed source that has been recently upgraded to 72,500 cubic meters per day. The source is our Wastewater Treatment Plant. It pumps treated water into the Red Deer River year round and it is not going to stop anytime soon.
The raw wastewater goes through different cycles and/or processes before it is released as clean water. Treated wastewater leaves the plant area through a channel before being released into the Red Deer River.
The upgraded capacity of Red Deer’s wastewater treatment plant is 72,500 cubic meters of water per day or 2.6 million cubic feet per day.
The energy in these moving waters is being wasted. Why not harness it as Hydroelectricity.
Hydroelectricity is electricity produced by movement of water. It is usually made with dams that block a river to make a reservoir or collect water that is pumped there. When the water is released, the pressure behind the dam forces the water down pipes that lead to a turbine. Our wastewater treatment plant acts like a dam as it holds back water for treatment.
So just how do we get electricity from water? Actually, hydroelectric and coal-fired power plants produce electricity in a similar way. In both cases a power source is used to turn a propeller-like piece called a turbine, which then turns a metal shaft in an electric generator, which is the motor that produces electricity. A coal-fired power plant uses steam to turn the turbine blades; whereas a hydroelectric plant uses moving water to turn the turbine. The results are the same.
People have been using the power of moving water to run water wheels and mills for more than 2,000 years. Modern power plants today convert that mechanical energy into electricity.
Tides, ocean currents, waterfalls, rivers… Moving water is a constant source of energy ready to be harnessed. Hydroelectric energy is obtained by using a turbine to convert the kinetic energy of a river or waterfall into mechanical energy, and then an alternator to transform it into electrical energy.
There are two main kinds of hydroelectric generating stations: reservoir, and
A generating station with reservoir uses a dam to create an artificial lake. A run-of-river generating station has no reservoir but offers the advantage of producing electricity without having to store the water.
Hydro power plants produce minimal greenhouse gases and are a source of clean, non-polluting energy. The evaporation/condensation cycle also makes hydro energy renewable. The above qualities pertain particularly to ROR plants, which produce energy from the natural water flow, which means that the impact on the landscape, ecosystem and neighbouring communities is considerably reduced. It also costs much less to produce electricity at an ROR plant.
Such properties make ROR hydroelectricity a sensible choice, for economic, social and environmental reasons.
Run-of-river generating stations are not very complicated. Flowing water is channelled through the intake and enters a penstock, which causes it to flow with greater speed and force to the turbine. The turbine is activated by the force of the water, and it, in turn, runs the alternator to produce electricity. The water then flows down the tailrace and returns to the river.
The viability of a site and the electricity it can produce are determined by two factors: drop height and water flow volume.
Hydroelectric energy has been in use for thousands of years. Ancient Romans built turbines, which are wheels turned by flowing water. Roman turbines were not used for electricity, but for grinding grains to make flour and breads.
Water mills provide another source of hydroelectric energy. Water mills, which were common until the Industrial Revolution, are large wheels usually located on the banks of moderately flowing rivers. Water mills generate energy that powers such diverse activities as grinding grain, cutting lumber, or creating hot fires to create steel.
Hydroelectric power is also very efficient and inexpensive. “Modern hydro turbines can convert as much as 90% of the available energy into electricity. The best fossil fuel plants are only about 50% efficient. In the US , hydropower is produced for an average of 0.7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Since we know we have a flow rate of 72,500 cubic meters per day, could we not ask an expert if we could harness it for hydroelectricity? If so how much could we produce and how much would it cost?
OPINION: Marlin Schmidt on water allocation in the Bow River Basin
The wise allocation of water in Alberta is essential to the sustainable development of an economy that works for all Albertans while preserving our precious natural heritage.
In 2007, Alberta recognized that limits for water allocation in the Bow River basin had been exceeded. No more new allocations of water have been allowed and Albertans have carefully managed the water resources in the basin since then. Fortress Mountain Holdings’ recent application to haul away and sell more than half of the 98 million litres a year it currently has the license to use threatens the careful management of water in the Bow River basin.
The original operators of Fortress Mountain were granted a license in 1968 to use 98 million litres of water per year from a tributary to Galatea Creek to prepare food and provide drinking water to skiers at the resort. The current owners claim that more than half of that allocation is not needed for those purposes and now want permission from Alberta Environment and Parks to haul 50 million litres of water per year away and sell it to the highest bidder. Allowing current license holders to subsidize their business operations with the sale of the unused portions of their licenses moves Alberta further away from the goal of sustainable development and would put the future of our river ecosystems at great risk.
Much has changed in the Bow River basin since 1968 – the demands on the river ecosystem have increased significantly with the twin pressures of population growth and climate change. Re-allocating 50 million litres of water would increase that pressure in a very ecologically sensitive area. It would also set a dangerous precedent for future allocations of water resources. If this application is approved, there’s nothing that will prevent future water license holders from selling their unused water allocations, and while the license holders may profit, our watersheds will pay the price.
Additionally, we must remember that this water allocation would be given priority over all other allocations granted after 1968 under Alberta’s “first-in-time first-in-right water” allocation system. This means that Fortress Mountain would receive priority for this use over a whole host of other users during times of extreme water shortage. Is selling bottled water really a higher priority for the people in the Bow River basin ahead of so many agricultural and municipal water uses? Most Albertans who have talked to me about this issue don’t think so.
Revenues from the sale of the water would apparently fund the goals that the owners have for the development of the resort, including environmentally sound development, living wages for staff, charitable and community activities, as well as reclamation of the site. I support those stated goals, but it should be the skiers who use the resort who pay for those activities. The other Bow River water users and the ecosystem should not be asked to pay for others’ enjoyment of a ski facility.
Alberta Environment and Parks must live up to its mandate of supporting sustainable development now and for future generations. Rejecting Fortress Mountain Holding’s water application would be a step in the right direction.
Environment & Parks Critic
Alberta’s Official NDP Opposition
Red Deer residents are financing the devaluation of their homes.
There are two big issues with Red Deer’s population growth in the last 4 years.
First we are aging. 4 years ago the average age of Red deer residents was 35 years of age. Basically half the population was 35 or under and half are over 35. Now 4 years later the average age is 40 or 39.5 to be precise. So now half of Red Deer’s population is over 40.
Secondly our population increased by 195 residents (00.2%) but we added 1299 new homes. Basically the same number of taxpayers (with the minimal 00.2% increase), are paying taxes on 1299 new homes (3.09% increase).
Along with 1299 new homes, we the lowly taxpayer had to pay for servicing, transit, schools, service centres, roads, sidewalks, sewers, mowing, lighting etc so 1299 new homes could be built.
Now let us look at the 42,034 houses that was there before. There used to 2.4 residents per home now we are down to 2.3 residents per home. 4% decrease. Our taxes went up 10% on these 4 year+ older homes, in 4 years but we have fewer people paying the taxes. The value of our older homes have decreased below inflation, and a realtor told me that houses are selling at about 10% below assessed value.
Supply is out doing demand and we are financing it with our taxes.
Since our median age is increasing, and our population is stagnating means we are losing young families, we are decimating established neighbourhoods and we are financing it.
I think we should rethink this strategy. Let us build things that attract families who will create a demand for new homes. We have enough empty lots and half filled neighbourhoods. We have too many under utilized homes, too many people wanting to but unable to downsize or upsize but can’t afford to sell their homes in this depressed market.
The hardest hit neighbourhoods are north of the river and has been declining for at least 6 years. Perhaps we could build a high school or a new swimming pool to attract people to buy and renovate subsequently revitalizing the neglected older neighbourhoods. No new roads, sewers, transit, fire halls, etc to be built.
What have we spent on new roads and traffic circles lately, was it $135 million or $185 million? Did we top the $200 million? I am not sure exactly, different budgets, but I think it’s around there.
So with poor growth rates, and an over supply of homes, a depressed housing market, it may be time to change course. We have seen our population decrease before while neighbouring communities grew. Time for a re-think?
I believe it is time for a change because I don’t want to continue financing the devaluing of my home and scaring young families away.
How many more years before the average age in Red Deer is fifty?
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