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What are river turbines?
River turbines are underwater electricity generators that use the current of a river to propel rotors. They are similar to wind turbines, but use the currents in water instead of wind. This technology is different from older hydropower designs in that it does not require the creation of large dams and reservoirs, and leaves the flow of rivers relatively unchanged.
Because of the large, powerful rivers that run through our state, Louisiana is poised to benefit from this type of clean, renewable source of energy.
Tidal turbines are a related technology, which use the tides of seas and oceans to generate electricity.
Advantages of river turbines
- No fuel costs
- Minimal environmental impact
- Generating electricity with river turbines creates no emissions
- River turbines require relatively little maintenance
- Can be sited near large population centers and other significant power needs, reducing the amount of power lost in transmission
Current state and future expectations of river turbines
Two companies have proposed installing river turbines in the lower Mississippi River. Free Flow Power has filed applications with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers for turbines at 80 locations, most of which are in sections of the Mississippi that pass through Louisiana , and have carried out a six-month test with a turbine in the river near Baton Rouge. The company says that, with FERC approval, they expect to begin generating power by 2013.
Six test turbines have been placed in the East River in New York City, and in 2008 a 35KW turbine was installed on the Mississippi River in Minnesota.