Micro-Hydro Electricity at the Algonquin Eco-Lodge

We’ve just gone from the Flintstones to the Jetsons!

After 4 long years of waiting for permits, designs, and manufacture we have finally got our micro-hydro system working at the Eco-Lodge! We have 2 turbines running with water diverted from our waterfall.  The water is siphoned from our lake, runs through our pipe beside the waterfall, through the turbines, and then back into the river.  We only have 1 turbine running now and it produces 8 kW of alternative energy.  We are waiting for the control panel for the second turbine (probably next year) and it will produce an additional 4 kW of green electricity!  To put that in perspective a normal house in the city uses 1 kW of electricity on average.

A BIG “thank you” to all the volunteers who helped us with moving the pipes into place and for helping to build the support cribs.  The pipes alone weigh 2,200 kg.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

We have photos and a video up on our micro-hydro page.

Two micro-hydro turbinesBefore we got this system working we relied on propane for our hot water tank, fridge, and the dim lamps inside the lodge. This meant we used about 1,500 kg of propane each year.  Three times a year we had to move, by hand, 500 kg of propane (plus the extra 200 kg of weight of the tanks themselves).  The truck would drop them off 2.3 km away in our parking lot, and we would have to transfer them into a trailer and haul them back up to the lodge then then unload them by hand.  Needless to say this is backbreaking work!

Now, with the electricity we create from our waterfall we have replaced as many appliances as possible with electric versions.  We have calculated, using the UN/NASA software RETSCREEN, that we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 tons EVERY year! 🙂

The electricity obviously makes our life easier but it has also allowed us to upgrade the inside of the Eco-Lodge.  We’ve replaced the dim propane lamps with electric lights (including deer antler chandeliers in the lounge!), lights in the rooms, and we could replace our battery powered water pump with a more powerful electric water pump.  The new pump means we can rip out the old bathrooms, put in proper “dual flush” low flow toilets, and new shower rooms.

And all this without having to hear the sound of a gas generator or look at hydro lines cutting a swath through the forest!