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To add your comments to this topic, click on one of the 'Reply' links below.

Making my own electricity from a year round creek
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Canadian Cowboy    Posted 03-05-2001 at 21:06:26       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Im thinking about getting the neighbours together in our little community of ten families. We live 25 km away from civilization. So we are isolated, which is great. Im thinking of making a community power plant. Some sort of power generator driven by water from a year round flowing creek/river. MY goal would be to get government grants and set up our selves as a co-op, have free power and sell the rest back to into the main grid to the big power co. and make some money.

Is there any one else doing this, where's a good place to get information to to start?. would be realy intrested to hear your thoughts.

This is one more crazy idea of mine of being self suffcient, in 50 years from now when im 70 and there is no fossil fuels my community will be laughing, we will be prepaired, skilled horse loggers/farmers and living off of free electricity, nice dream eh.

Spencer Greely    Posted 03-07-2001 at 10:16:20       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Here in ontario you'll have to fight the
conservation authorities who think they are here
on earth to make people miserable.

had the same idea a few years back when I
had a lot with a creek. Never did any research
but I think that they will ask you to prove you
are not upsetting the balance of nature ie:
watersheds, fish hatching. As far as fish you'll
have to provide a fish run for spawning and a
system for flood control and runnoff, which usually means over the dam. You will have to prove that your dam is strong enough to hold back
water in flood seasons for fear of a downstream
deluge to other people using the water.

As far as feeding that back into the grid,
that may not be an option for you. You
will have to get permission here too. They will
examine your equipment to prove you know what your
doing and won't zap their system or yourself.

I'm not trying to be a pessimist here, but
recommend that you do a lot of research. The
times are getting tougher for the guy who wants to
go it alone.

I have a complete library of home power systems and if you need info at anytime let me
know. I have plans for building and balancing
impulse wheels, penstocks, overshot wheels
using waterproof ply and auto differential
(not recommended 3HP), dam building methods, calculations GPH water analysis and flow,etc.

Check out back 1970's issues of Mother Earth
and Harrowsmith.

I hope you make it for all our sakes.


Gary    Posted 03-06-2001 at 13:04:18       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Well first you need to figure out, is it a creek or river? What is the flow rate on the water. WHat is your water head, This will determine if its even possible. Next do you need any land/water managment permission to dam or build on the water? You will need a small diverting stream to run a turbine.

Next how much power do you need for your community? Selling power back to the power company usually isnt cost effective, they only have to pay bulk rates and the cost of interconnect equipment usually is eaten in any payments you might get back, if your local power company even has to accecpt or pay for the power.

Lets look at cost. Asumming you have a fast stream 200gpm with a 100ft head, you get only 1.2kw of power out, Unless your happy with 24/48 volts your going to have to convert it to something so figure in some lostt that 1kw of power into an battery bank and invertsystem. turbine will run your $2k, another $4k for an inverter, another $1k for battery, controller, wire and plubing. So for 1kw of power you have spent $7, most likely close to $10k. Is that enough power for the money?

Dave M    Posted 03-06-2001 at 08:46:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have to agree with Geo about paying for the 25 km power line. If you can't justify the line for bringing the power in then it is very unlikely you will produce enough juice to justify a power line for sending it back out.

I once built a small off-grid power system for a friend. He wanted to be able to run some lights at a remote location, and he already had found a used windmill generator, voltage regulator and tower. We set the stuff up, and I got him some some deep-cycle batteries and an inverter, and wired everything up. It worked, and it was fun to build, but I don't think it was the most economical solution.

Around here, if you want to do anything to a creek that affects the movement of fish then you need a full environmental impact study and serious permits before you can lift a shovel. I would also recommend that you figure out how much power your creek could actually provide with real-world efficiency factors before you go any farther.

I found this magazine on the web when I was doing the wind power system.

Dave M    Posted 03-06-2001 at 09:17:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
I almost forgot. There is another side to the whole renewable energy debate that the home power people will never discuss. Here is a very thought-provoking article about large scale alternative energy production.

geo in MI    Posted 03-06-2001 at 05:42:23       [Reply]  [Send Email]


Know anything about electricity? If you make the stuff, you have to know how to handle it without killing yourself or your neighbors--or without burning down your house--with no fire trucks around. Also, who's going to run the 25 km power line to the electric company that you're going to sell this stuff to? Them?

Back up your dream with information, intelligence, and hard work--and you might make it.

Canadian Cowboy    Posted 03-06-2001 at 09:08:14       [Reply]  [Send Email]
The 25 km's of power line already exist, instead of the power co, pushing power down the line to us, I had the idea of us pushing power down the line to them, The grid is alread set up, the idea would be that after the resident's revieved the power thet require, after the last house there would be a meter keeping track of the power sent out.

I see the idea as a long rang goal. firts aquiring the skills and or locating people with the appropriate skills, There might even be a possibility for full time employemnt for one person to maintain the generation station.

ITs all just a thought, Im a ware of the one house hold hydro power generation systems consiting of car altinators driven by a paddle of some sort. The power created would than be stored in car batteries, This sytem seems like it would be low on power and high on maintaince.

I sorta had the idea of using an industrail gerator minus the diesel engine, and using hydo power in place of the diesel. To work a portion of the creeks water would be diverted down a channel to speed up the water and send it over a paddle wheel of some description. The creek would be slighly altered but not changed, so fish will beable to traval down and up stream. The speed of the paddle wheel would have to be altered to get enough energy to make power, so some sort of gear system would have to be designed.

IT all may seem liek a headache to aorgainze and build, and especialy when the power co. already has power going right to your house. Im thinking of the future, I know whats been going on in california and its happening here too, high electricty and fossil fuel costs, low income earners are struggling, whats going to happen next winter. Or 5-1O years down the road.

Thanks for the link to the Home power website, any more links to places like that would be realy help full.

The way i see it, if 100-400 small comunities made a small power generation staion it would be equavalant to one large hyrdo dam, just pulling numbers out of the air for peerly point. And if they all used power they needed an sold the extra to the power co. the power co. would still be better off in the inend, Thats one large hydro dam they don't have to maintain.

IHank    Posted 03-05-2001 at 21:54:23       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Canadian Cowboy- What you describe has been done on a smaller scale in different places at different times over many years. Some have been written up in Mother Earth News magazine. Snoop into back issues at your public library.

The ones I remember were "low head" turbine generator systems. Low head means the water falls only a few feet, instead of many.

The ones I remember were done as partial power for individual households and farms. Providing full time electric power for an entire community is not something for an individual to take on alone. You need a support consensus from the community. You need some credible engineering reports as to feasability. You need...

Best to think in terms of a DIY system, just for your own homestead. Let it be a showcase of what's possible, then expand your effort based on demonstrated success. Good luck and good thinking! IHank

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