Lindsay George, water resource engineer in the Glenwood Springs offices of Applegate, and Dan Zimmerle, a research scientist and adjunct mechanical engineering professor at Colorado State, received the grant, which is part of the Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy (ACRE) Program to promote energy-related projects beneficial to Colorado’s agriculture industry.

In the study, the researchers will examine hydrokinetic turbines that could generate power from an elevation drop in an irrigation channel of 5-30ft. Water in irrigation canals moves fast enough to produce anywhere from 100kW to 2MW of power.

Interest in this type of hydrokinetic power is growing as technology improves. The state of Colorado currently has a MOU with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to streamline the permitting process for low-impact hydropower projects in existing canals.

“Hydrokinetic turbines produce a small amount of power and are going to be practical in certain situations,” said George. “With our study, we expect to report a total amount of power that could be produced using low-head and hydrokinetic turbines in our irrigation canals that should help irrigation districts in planning their projects.

“New low-head technologies have potential at sites previously considered unfeasible for hydro development because of a lack of significant elevation drop. Irrigation canal drop and check structures, as well as existing diversion dams and outflows, may provide the drop necessary to implement these new low-head hydro technologies.”