The Algonquin Eco-Lodge Micro-Hydro Generator
The Eco-Lodge is set back in the Algonquin forest approximately 3 km from the road, and therefore too far away to be connected to the “hydro grid” (even if we wanted to). As an alternative we have been using propane lanterns for lighting, firewood to heat the the main building, and the fridge and hot water heater run on propane. Carting in over 1 ton (in 100 lb tanks) of propane 3 times a year, and chopping and moving enough firewood to run the lodge for a year is very labour intensive and time consuming.
We are, however, lucky enough to have a beautiful, and powerful, waterfall virtually at our doorstep. This is a perfect location for a micro-hydro generator to create our own electricity. The turbines were designed in British Columbia, the pipes were manufactured in Ontario, and a local electrician provided all the electrical components. The powerhouse was built from timber planed in a local sawmill. Many thanks to the local contractors, friends, staff, and volunteers who have given many hours of their time to work on the project.
The turbines produce approximately 11 kw of continuous power in the winter (when the water levels are highest) and 4 kw in the summer. This is more than sufficient to operate water pumps, the fridge and freezer, hot water tanks, all lighting, and even some electric heating in the winter. And, what makes us most proud, it reduces our greenhouse gas emissions by over 7 tons each year!
As far as we know, we are the first and only lodge in southern Ontario utilizing micro-hydro technology.
Here is a short video of the micro-hydro project.
Here are some photos showing the story of construction of our micro-hydro generating system.
Stage 1 – Permits – December 2004
After nearly 2 years of applications, we finally received the required permits from the various government ministries.
Stage 2 – Pipe Delivery – March 2007
Pipes delivered by flatbed truck.
Towing the pipes with our Bombardier ATV and Skidoo. We had to move them over 2 km into the bush. The pipes are 15 m (50′) long and weigh over 180 kg (400 pounds) each, for a total of 2,200 kg (5,000 pounds). All to be pulled up the side of a waterfall!
Stage 3 – Fusing Pipes – October 2007
A special machine melts the pipe ends together under pressure.
Stage 4 – Installing Pipes – October 2007
We used 6 guys, chains, straps, plus a backhoe to drag the pipes up the side of the waterfall. Unfortunately we had to start from the bottom and drag up hill.
We had to manhandle the pipes around trees and sharp rocks
Finally, the first piece arrives at the top of the dam
Stage 5 – Building the Support Cribs – October 2007
A group of “eco-volunteers” came up to the lodge to help us build the cribs for the pipes. We had to lift the pipes out of the water and to provide them a continuous downward slope.
The cribs are made from hemlock, and weighed down with rocks. Kudos to the volunteers for working in such wet conditions!
The finished cribs.
Installing the last section of pipe and the intake screen
The fish/intake screen weighs 500 pounds, and we got it in place just a few days before the ice melted
Stage 6 – Powerhouse for the Turbines – October 2009
Stage 7 – Electrical Wiring to connect Generator to Eco-Lodge – November 2009
Opening up the turbines for the first time!
Waterflow from the 1 turbine running. It goes straight back into the river.
Water output pipes in the winter.
The Powerhouse (with lights on!)