Hydropower is electricity produced from the kinetic energy of water in motion, typically falling from a higher elevation to a lower one. Using the kinetic energy of water to power turbines, generators convert the energy into electricity, which is then fed into the electrical grid for consumption.
A Growing Technology – Although this renewable source of energy accounts for approximately 10% of electricity produced in the United States, it is a rapidly growing market. The US has tremendous potential to add capacity to existing non powered dams as 97% of about 79,000 dams in the US are not generating any power. These dams, if energized, have the potential to supply an additional 7.3GW of capacity by 2025.
States such as Washington, Idaho and Oregon produce the majority of their electricity from hydropower. In many countries around the world, hydropower accounts for a much higher percentage of the overall electricity that is produced worldwide, with more than 60 countries using hydropower to meet more than half of their electricity needs.
Steel Penstocks – The hydroelectric energy market uses steel penstock pipes and liners along with bifurcations, trifurcations, fittings and other custom fabrications ranging from elbows, flanges and tees to ring girders and more. We offer all of these as well as a wide array of other components of a hydropower system to customers throughout the United States and Canada.
Penstocks are constructed at an incline to facilitate the flow of water by gravity, with the energy then harnessed to rotate turbines. Steel penstock pipes have been used for more than a hundred years, with some of the oldest penstocks still in service being made of riveted steel.
Spirally welded steel pipe from Northwest Pipe Company is an engineered system, with each application customized to meet exact project requirements. Engineered systems offer specific advantages over other water pipe materials. Steel pipe requires smaller trenches than other materials because the inherent strength of the material means less wall thickness is needed to accommodate capacity and working pressures.
Steel pipe has the best performance of all pipe materials in seismically active zones. Strong, flexible welded steel pipe is available in lengths up to 60 feet, requiring fewer joints than other materials, which translate into transportation and installation savings. Steel pipe offers both gasketed and restrained joint options for economical installation. And because steel pipe is engineered to specific job site conditions during its manufacture, joints arrive ready for installation. This provides welded steel pipe with a distinct advantage over non-engineered products which must be pieced together at installation, requiring labor-intensive field cut-to-fit installation techniques.
Northwest Pipe Company is partnered with on Lucid Pipe™, a new, water-to-wire energy recovery solution that enables water-intensive industrial, municipal and agricultural facilities to produce clean, reliable, low-cost electricity from their gravity-fed water pipelines and effluent streams. This strategic relationship was formed in 2008, with the two companies collaborating on the research and development of the lift-based turbine design that became the foundation for the Lucid Pipe™ power system