“I’m curious about hydrokinetic turbines. Are there any in the Fairbanks area?” asked a member recently.
The Alaska Center for Energy & Power and the Ocean Renewable Power Company are studying “low-head,” or hydrokinetic, turbine generators for village applications at a test site in Nenana.
Also, on June 28 of this year, Alaska Power & Telephone deployed Alaska’s first 25-kilowatt hydrokinetic turbine in the Yukon River near Eagle.
Unlike conventional hydroelectric generation, hydrokinetic units capture the energy of moving water without the use of dams. Instead, the units are installed in a “free flow” environment and can be moved around – permit depending, of course.
Hydrokinetic turbines are much smaller than conventional hydro turbines, providing anywhere from 10 to 100 kW of power. They are designed to allow fish to pass through and leave the flow of water undisturbed.
While dams stay year-round, the turbines must be removed from the rivers in the winter to prevent damage from ice build up.