Harness more power from the Niagara River
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University reported in June plans to anchor turbines in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Florida to test whether the steady ocean current can be converted into electricity. The Federal Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management estimates that harnessing the Gulf Stream could provide up to 35 percent of Florida’s energy needs.
This got me thinking – why can’t we do the same thing here in Western New York? Diverting more water at Niagara Falls for additional power generation is not an option due to international treaty agreements. But, with the advances in horizontal turbine technology developed to harness energy from ocean waves, the possibility is there to use the speedy currents of the Niagara River before or after it reaches the falls.
The Gulf Stream currents race at 3 mph. The speed of the Niagara River ranges from 1.5 mph in the upper river to 25 mph in the rapids above the falls. I acknowledge that the researchers at Florida Atlantic have a little more water depth to work with, but with the constant flow, water would provide a consistent source to generate power.
Do we have any engineering students at the University at Buffalo who would take on the challenge of creating an energy system that could be used to harness more of the power of the mighty Niagara?
John S. Szalasny