Fish and River Turbine Get Along So Far

It was billed as a low-impact energy producer and so far the hydrokinetic turbine installed on the Yukon River near the village of Eagle in Alaska earlier this summer is living up to that claim. University of Alaska researchers say they’ve found no evidence the device has harmed fish.

“In the brief testing that we have been able to accomplish, we have no indication that the turbine has killed or even injured any fish,” said Andrew Seitz from the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at Alaska-Fairbanks.

image via University of Alaska-Fairbanks

image via University of Alaska-Fairbanks

According to a university press release, the researchers have been capturing and gathering information about the fish—and then releasing them—to determine how many, when and where they move through the river. So far, say the researchers, the placement of the turbine in the deepest part of the wide river puts it outside the run of most fish. And early indications are that those fish that do pass through the turbine are emerging unscathed.

The 16-feet wide, 8-feet tall turbine, the first of its kind to go into service, has four blades that revolve just 22 times per minute. When installed, Alaska Power & Telephone was calling the turbine a 25-kilowatt producer. According to an Associated Press report, however, the turbine has been cranking out 15 to 17 kilowatts. At that rate, it meets about a quarter of Eagle’s needs.

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