Hydropower

March 25th, 2010. Post by Quinta do Vale

Work has begun on renewable energy power generation at the quinta!

Having seen local engineer Wayne Sutton’s water-wheel installation on his own property, it was immediately obvious to me that this was exactly what we needed for the hydro component of our planned renewable energy generation system.

Wayne’s water wheel, appropriately geared, drives a 1100W-24V permanent magnet generator from a wind turbine. On his site (the old water-powered olive mill on the valley floor) it was the perfect solution to both the lack of head and the prodigious amount of debris washing down the main river which had made his run-of-river turbine next to useless.

Even though we have a reasonable head (15 up to 30m, depending on whether we use all of it or just the steepest section) on our site, it’s also a perfect solution for our variable flow rates and the debris washing down the barroco. No dams, no penstocks, no fiddling about with turbine jets, and no clogged nozzles. Any debris just gets thrown straight off the wheel. It should be capable of being driven by lower flow than required for an enclosed hydro turbine (they can cavitate if volumes drop below ideal operating parameters) and can potentially develop more power for a given volume of water. Also, we can site the wheel and batteries much closer to the point of use, cutting down on cabling (and power loss) as it won’t be necessary to use the full height of the barroco to develop sufficient head to drive it.

Since installing his wheel, Wayne’s had more power than he knows what to do with, even with 4 loads of laundry a day and computer and DVD player on all evening. His batteries are now being maintained in a state of full charge and the charge controller is cutting in to shut off the solar panel, as well as diverting excess power to the dump load.

Our system will be based on the Miniwind 2200-24 permanent magnet generator.

Water wheel site

The site

The beginnings of the battery shed

The beginnings of the battery shed

Constructing the PMG base

Constructing the PMG base

The PMG base

The PMG base

Shuttering in for the wheel base the other side of the barroco

Shuttering in for the wheel base the other side of the barroco

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One Response to “Hydropower”

  1. Hydro power commissioning | Permaculturing in Portugal Says:

    […] per second coming down the barroco – we’ve had the chance to finally commission our water wheel installation and see how much power it’s capable of […]

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