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Playing Ball with In-Pipe Energy

Portland, Oregon is known for being the home of water-generated power, but while you may think of large dams, we are actually talking about pipe-based water power. A while ago we wrote about the production of power by Lucid Energy from gravity-fed turbines in major water drinking water pipes. That company’s technology  projects are large-scale.

Portland’s InPipe Energy uses a slightly different principle, harnessing water pressure to drive smaller turbines located in pipe bypasses that can easily be installed onto existing piping with minimal disruption to the water supply and no need to replace sections of pipe. The product combines smart control software with commercially proven hardware for a cost-effective, reliable source of energy that can power on-site equipment, provide back-up power, or provide a revenue stream via net metering when sent back to the grid.

The company recently partnered with the city of Hillsboro to install its In-PRV (Pressure Recovery Valve) in multiple stadium locations at the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex and Hillsboro Stadium. The installation of the In-PRV will generate up to 200,000 kWh of electricity per year and will save more than 162,000 pounds of carbon annually. This is an important part of the City’s goals to reduce energy costs and meet its climate action goals. The technology will also help power the lighting, concessions and EV charging stations for fleets at the recreation complex and stadium.

What does this equate to in everyday terms? Dave Moldal, Senior Program Manager at Energy Trust of Oregon, says that energy provided will offset the “equivalent of the electricity load for 20 homes per year, every year, for decades to come.”

Water is the most important resource on the planet but water agencies all over the world are struggling with aging infrastructure and rising costs. Water is also extremely energy intensive, so as the cost of energy rises, so does the cost of water. So city of Hillsboro is able to better manage its water while also reducing its energy costs.

Eric Hielema, Water Department Engineering Manager for the city, emphasizes that utilities typically use a lot of energy to move water in the form of pumping water over long distances. Water is pumped up to a high point and then stored in reservoirs, and is subsequently distributed by gravity to lower points. The water is at a high pressure — too high for typical residential and commercial uses. The pressure must be reduced via friction, and in this case Hillsboro is using InPipe’s hydroelectric turbine to provide that friction and to capture the electricity.


InPipe Energy’s In-PRV is a dual-purpose turnkey solution that enables water agencies to more accurately manage pressure in pipelines while converting excess pressure into clean, low cost electricity. In the case of the stadium and recreation complex InPipe provides utility company Hillsboro Water with precise pressure management and 24/7 monitoring of flow and pressure to reduce the risk of general leaks and extend the life of Hillsboro’s pipeline infrastructure. The In-PRV provides redundancy for existing valves and gives water managers precise control over the pressure in the pipeline during both high and low-flows – something older PRVs don’t provide. The dashboard provides real-time, continuous data on flow, upstream/downstream pressure and energy production.


About Tom Breunig (203 Articles)
Tom Breunig is principal at Cleantech Concepts, a market research firm tracking R&D projects in the cleantech sector. He is a technology industry veteran and former international marketing and communications executive who has worked with organizations in semiconductor design, water monitoring, energy efficiency and environmental sensing. He has spoken at numerous technology and energy conferences.
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