The LucidPipes work by taking advantage of gravity-driven flow. The turbines’ svelte aerodynamic blades skim off surplus pressure from the moving water rather than impede it the way a conventional hydropower turbine would.
“Our system is based more on the science of a wind turbine or an airplane wing,” says Lucid Energy CEO Gregg Semler. And it brings none of the environmental impacts that come with hydropower from dammed rivers.
Gravity-based water systems can meet 10 to 15 percent of their power needs with LucidPipes, and at an attractive price. LucidPipes generate power at 5.6 cents per kilowatt-hour in Portland, less than half the average U.S. residential power rate.
Semler estimates there is enough spare pressure in U.S. and Canadian water systems to support several thousand installations like Portland’s.
[This article originally appeared in print as, "Hydropower in a Pipe."]