powering dams non-powered

Powering Non-Powered Dams

In Order to Power Non-power Dams

Non powered Dams

Non-powered dams account for 97% of the dams in the United States. The U.S. Administration’s goal is to generate 80% of the nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035; reduce carbon emissions 26%–28% below 2005 levels by 2025; reduce carbon emissions 83% by 2050; lead the world in clean energy innovation; and stimulate jobs and economic growth with a clean energy economy. The best way to accomplish this goal is to power non-powered dams. 


Smithland Hydro Project
Smithland Hydro Project

American Municipal Power (AMP) has expanded hydro power capacity in the Midwest, with plans to convert six dams along the Ohio River that previously had no electric generating equipment. The $400 million Smithland project will have a capacity of 72 MW. As many as 400 construction workers will be employed to build the project. That works out to be $5,555/kW ($.63/kWh), which is very expensive.  

Maynard Dam was chosen based on the results of the USACE National Hydropower Resource Assessment (2013) that identified an average annual generation of 249,829 MWh (28.5MW) at the 30% exceedance level.  Recent estimates are closer to 20 MW. 


Maynard Dam: 150 MW
Maynard Dam: 150 MW

Hydro Development Cost: Maynard Dam
Hydro Development Cost: Maynard Dam

To determine economic feasibility, two metrics were used: benefit-cost ratio (BCR) and internal rate of return (IRR).

The present value of cost and benefits was calculated using the 2013 federal discount rate of 3.75%. For example, a project with an IRR of 3.75% would have a BCR of ratio of one, using the above definition and the 2013 federal discount rate.


Hydro Development Cost: Maynard Dam
Hydro Development Cost: Maynard Dam

Here is the big surprise: despite the high cost of developing the Maynard Dam of $203 Million, the project is profitable: 4.56% ROI

Now a host of companies are scheming to retrofit old dams and levees with turbines and plug them in to the power grid.

The problem

By 2020, over 70% of US dams will be 50 years or older and in need of repair, replacement or removal. In addition, there are over 49,000 low-head, non-powered dams in the U.S. suitable for hydro power. This presents a unique opportunity to equip or upgrade dams, thus providing a financial incentive for dam restoration while contributing to the country’s clean energy portfolio.

Existing options are not suited for low head sites

Current state-of-the-art solutions for low head small and micro hydro systems are generally a one size fits all solution. As a result, turbine suppliers and engineers either provide standardized runners with lower efficiency because the specifics of the water flow and head are not adequately taken into account, or they adjust their design to the waterway under consideration and must then charge large engineering fees. Either way, the project is often not efficient and therefore not economically attractive particularly at the lower end of the head range.

The HUG Solution:

 To Add Power Economically to a Non-Powered Dam

Let us look outside the box for a less expensive for existing non-powered dams at a fraction of the cost: the HUG Hydro Green Energy.

The present renovated powerhouse’s switch gear and controls are sensitive, complex technologies. By contrast, the HUG use much simpler electrical controls because the helical turbines are designed for a stable rotation from water filling the HUG to the brim at all times.

Non-powered damsHydro-electricity is fundamentally the combination of water flow and vertical drop (commonly called “head”). Pressurized, flowing water is a very dense resource, and the HUG convert a very large percentage of the available energy into electricity because the resource is captive in a HUG Funnel.

The large cost involved in rehabilitating  a non-powered dam can be circumvented by a simple set of siphons over the top the dam.


vortex effect
Vortex Effect

The most critical factor is the Velocity of the flow. This is accomplished with Vortex Velocity in the HUG:

A tripling of the Velocity from 2.5 m/s multiplies the Kinetic Energy (KE) by 3 ³ or  27 X, by the formula:

Kinetic Energy (KE ) = ½ × A × V ³ x efficiency                                                        (A = area swept; Velocity)

       = ½ x 3.26 m² x (8.84 m/s)³ x .35 =0 .5 MW/turbine

9 Turbines x 0.5 MW/turbine = 4.5 MW

HUG Length: 7 m; Diameter: 2.14 m  

9 Turbines @    $240,000                                                                  


9 Submersible Generator @ $150,000                                                    


9 Module HUG Funnels and Siphons


Module Anchors             


Electric al Balance  of Plant                  


Electrical Connections                                         


Electrical and Mechanical Overhead                   




Contingency, Insurance, Legal costs, Bank fees, Interest: (15%)        


Total Helical Turbine System Cost                                                      


Engineering Planning and Design (15%)                                          


Patent Promotion Fee* (10%)


 Total Costs  5,000 kW  80% utilization              ($0.30/kWh: First Year Only)    Add  Transmission Line and Right of Way             


 The Following Year: O&M annual costs are 15%:  $.045/kWh 

Annual Return on Investment:  80% utilization: 35,050 MWh                    [x $79 (Quebec)] $2,770,000:               ROI = 26%/year

      Annual Return on Investment: (Ontario FIT) (using $131/MWh)                        $4,590,000                                        ROI =43%/year

Electrifying Unpowered Dams

Untapped Hydro Resources


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