If Massachusettes-based Free Flow Power has its way, the Mississippi River will be producing 1600 megawatts of free, constant, emissions-free energy by 2017. They'll do it by installing thousands, or even tens of thousands, of in-stream turbines at 59 sites stretching from St Louis to the Gulf of Mexico.
Hundreds of turbines would be installed at each site and, all together, they would produce enough power to eliminate the need for two large coal-fired power plants.
Of course, right now, this project has a lot of hurdles to jump. First, they have to complete a detailed environmental analysis of the project, and Federal Energy Regulatory Comission has to approve the project. The environmental analysis could take as long as three years.
Additionally, Free Flow Power has yet to demonstrate that their systems can operate at costs below that of natural gas power. If the project doesn't produce economical power, financing the project will be impossible. In fact, Free Flow Power, as far as we can tell, hasn't actually tested their turbines outside the laboratory.
But if Free Flow Power can demostrate that their system isn't going to harm the river's ecosystem, they'll get first crack at developing all 59 of these high-energy sites in the Mississippi...and that could turn out to be quite an asset.
written by Simon D, April 07, 2008
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