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These water turbines are the type of system in which Oregon should be investing. Relatively small scale so low risk. Potentially low environmental impact and no visual impact. If it fails to be low impact and effective, there would seem to be little related infrastructure that would need to be maintained or removed. In these ways, these water turbines are a better bet than the “SMART Tower” wind turbine concept.

If “today's stiffened credit markets either won't allow that or will scare investors from trying”, why are we instead risking our scarce resources on a soccer team stadium?

Jeff Jansen

My initial reaction is to question whether these turbines would have as little environmental impact as is hoped for. To put it in perspective, the turbine pictured puts out 35kW, according to the Verdant Power web site. Bonneville Dam puts out 1,077 MW, according to the BPA web site. That means it would take about 30,770 of those turbines to produce as much power as Bonneville Dam. Assuming they would have to be spaced adequately to perform optimally, that would require, I'm guessing, miles and miles of river run. And with a diameter of 16.4 ft, rotating at 32 rpm, the tips of those blades (3 per turbine) would be traveling at 27.5 ft/sec. I would not want to be the fish that bumps into one of those 92,310 blade tips.


I hope someday we can return the Columbia River to a wild river. Celilo Falls is the best example of what would be an unparalleled natural, cultural and truly green wonder deserving of Nation Park standing. I think Bonneville and its cheap energy have damaged this area is many ways, though the energy isn’t cheap anymore.

If this Verdant turbine is not low impact, then developing a low impact turbine seems like a logical future goal and worthy of investment. The catastrophic impact of Bonneville is well documented, and has taken a new twist with the killing of California Sea Lions.

We simply can’t experiment with new green energy projects at the 1,077 MW level.

K. Cooper

One issue with our kind of rivers is that flow doesn't stop or slow down enough to plant one of these on the river bed. In the East River example, they had only a finite amount of time to do the river work, the exact moment that the tide and river collide. The river was very powerful and it was very hard for them to do this, could be nearly impossible to do it here.


Building Bonneville Dam required redirecting the entire river, and consider the lengths we go to drill for oil offshore.

We can find a way to get a turbine positioned on the bottom of the river, unless we never try.


This is an interesting blog on the art of architecture. Energy is governed by engineering and economics not art. The standard metric cost is per kWh delivered taking into account the 24 hour load cycle in the context ultimately of smart grids.

So reporting on energy, which is great, should include cost projections and their reference.

Common Sense

Rob seems to be implying a clear line between engineering and economics and art.

Engineering and economics decisions like the Columbia River dams have had a huge aesthetic impact on the cultures of the Northwest, just ask the native peoples of the Gorge.


Someday returning the Columbia to a wild river. That would truly be a worthy objective and a positive accomplishment if it were done. Think about if fish counts could again rise to what they were before the dams. It's hard to get back what's been taken away.

In the interest of sustaining a modern civilization's power needs from generating systems that have less power generating ability than dams, it's important to keep considering how overall need can be reduced. We waste lots of power. Ever expanding development eats up lots of it. In what other areas is power wastefully expended that could be corrected?


They could fix the problem of fish hitting blade tips by building a cage around the turbine, or the fast moving outside blades, or they could make the turbine produce a sound or electrical pulse that fish avoid.

They could overcome the installation problems by building each turbine with a coupler that would attach to a flexible drive shaft that would run the turbine during installation from a boat on the surface. The turbine would propel itself and the installation crew upstream during installation, to exactly counter the current, like a boat propeller. Then, once the turbine is installed, the crew could remove the drive shaft, place an aquadynamic cap over the drive shaft coupler, and return to the boat.

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