Downstream of Mighty Mo Could Become Power Generator

John Davis

A downstream portion of the Missouri River could join the upper part of the river in becoming a major power generator in this country.

This story from the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune says a Massachusetts-based company is hoping to harness the hydrokinetic energy the river produces… without the massive dams seen in the Dakotas and Montana:

Free Flow Power Corp. wants to plant thousands of small turbines underwater and use the rotation of turbine blades to produce clean energy. It has requested preliminary permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to study 25 regions of the river for the feasibility of generating electricity.

Nationwide, the company has requested permits to study more than 100 spots along the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

The river segment nearest Columbia, a stretch of about 10.5 miles, is proposed as the site of as many as 6,300 Free Flow turbines that could generate enough electricity to power more than 100,000 homes.

Additional sites along the Missouri River could be home to hundreds of more turbines.

Regulatory challenges and characteristics of the river could be the biggest hurdles the company would have to clear to make the project a reality. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers… among others… would have to sign off on the project. And there’s lots of debris in the river that could damage the turbines, and, of course, ice in the winter could do some real damage unless the blades are far enough under water… a tough proposition in a river known for varying depths. But the upside is one turbine could replace 147 tons of coal a year.