Turning Water Into Electricity, Students Into Experts

A hydropower turbine has the potential to not only create energy, but has also sparked the creation of both a renewable energy company and a renewable energy education program in Maine. One of W2 Energy’s WaterHelix hydrokinetic energy systems was bought by Maine entrepreneur Robert Fogg and will be the first project of his newly established Maine BioEnergy in collaboration with the local Lake Region Vocational Center.

As Fogg explains, “I called W2 Energy wanting to establish a renewable energy company in Maine. Our first project is using the WaterHelix to convert hydropower into electricity. Maine BioEnergy’s second project will be using the NT Plasmatron to convert our wood waste into electricity.”

image via W2 Energy

With W2 Energy’s design, the WaterHelix energy system can operate in rivers, streams, coastlines, or anywhere there is moving water. Because it operates entirely underwater, the system maintains the natural beauty of the river, allows fish to swim freely, and eliminates the need for dams.

To perform the installation and testing of the WaterHelix, Maine BioEnergy partnered with the Lake Region Vocational Center (LRVC). This project kicks off the Renewable Energy Education Program (REEP) at LRVC, where students will install the WaterHelix in one of the streams on Maine BioEnergy’s property to test its potential to generate energy.

Once installed, the students will monitor performance for power production and the small energy generating system (SEGS) for power offtake, which will give W2 Energy third party validated testing for their specialized systems. With their lessons learned, LRVC students will also participate in Maine BioEnergy’s national PR campaign showcasing renewable energy efforts in Maine.

For added incentive, not only will students get renewable energy experience, but select LRVC students will be offered internships and paid jobs with Maine BioEnergy.

Angeli Duffin is a Midwest transplant currently living in San Francisco, CA. Kicking off her career doing product design and development with Fair Trade artisans around the world, she then moved on to the editorial side, writing for eBay’s Green Team blog and working as a marketing consultant for social and environmentally minded companies

    • Treyroulet

      Love this.I want one by my camp on the Saco River.  Local kids no less.21st Century take of the waterwheel found on olde mills.

    • Levanger Hallowell

      This looks like a crude runner for a turn of the century Francis turbine; laid sideways in a stream. there are so many more effective and less harmful devices one can use, like the Gorlof style turbines. Has FERC even tested or approved one of these?