Malibu Hydro...Other working hydro sites                                 To index

This section details several operating hydro sites ranging in size from 100 watts to 200 thousand watts. Most of these plants are located in British Columbia and work in essentially the same way. The components of these sites may differ to what will be used in the Malibu Hydro project, but the idea is always the same.

Table of Contents

Section 1.   Marcabamba Hydro
Section 2.   Christian Valley
Section 3.   Hoodicroft
Section 4.   Beyond Malibu
Section 5.   Buttle lake
Section 6.   Conroy Creek
Section 7.   Three Forks BC
Section 8.   Kootney Lake
Section 9.   Malibu Lodge Hydro
High in the Pruvian Andes.
A 125 kW system supplying a small camp.
A fantastic example of what one man can build.
Beyond Base Camp charging system.
Strathcona Lodge, a 100 kW plant, owner built.
Here is what 100 feet of drop can do.
Built to sell power to the utility.
Another isolated plant, power being sold.
New life for an old friend! A rebuild of our 1994 project.

1. Marcabamba Peru
A 105 kW system supplying 4 mountain villages.

This is a perfect example of modern technology being introduced into a third world situation. In the High Andes of South America, electricity is still pretty much a luxury most people do without. The United Nations put up the money for a number of hydro plants in Peru, such as this system, built by Dependable Turbines of Vancouver BC. This photo was taken while commissioning the plant in the summer of 2000. The project employed locals to build the 2 km long aqueduct emptying into the settling basin pictured below. The water drops 650 feet through 12 inch steel penstock to the power house below and produces 105 kW of electricity.



2. Christian Valley
A 125 kW system supplying a small camp.

Even very old equipment finds a practical use. This 80 year old generator was salvaged from a small mining town and put to use powering the small village of Christian Valley in the BC interior.
With an output of 85 kW, there is ample power to provide light and heat to the isolated community. Note the large size of the open frame generator, and the separate exciter generator. Modern day equipment is a fraction the size, and capable of much greater output.


3. Hoodicroft
A fantastic example of what one man can build.

I first met the owner of this project on a trip to visit Frank Poirier, the well known Malibu caretaker, now living in the Kootneys. This hydro project was built 10 years ago by one man. The concrete dam, pipeline, and power house was built over a few years as funds permitted. The turbine was completely home built, the steel welded and the machining done at home.

The generator consists of a rewound electric motor operating as a generator. This is a common technique, and results in an efficient machine at a fraction of the cost of a synchronous generator. It does require a talent few posses.

After the success of his first project, he is now working on a much larger 280 kW plant. This will involve a concrete dam, a large penstock and concrete power house. Again, most of the components are entirely home made or modified from existing equipment. This guy is the most talented self taught engineer I have yet met in my 20 or so years in this field.

The 10 kW power house.

The power house under construction. Note the home made concrete pouring bucket suspended on a cable.

A well designed weir for the 280 kW plant.


4. Beyond Base Camp
A Battery charging DC micro Hydro system.

The Beyond Malibu program offers second year campers a chance to continue on with the 'Malibu Experience' in a wilderness setting. From a well equipped base camp, week long expeditions are conducted in the mountains surrounding Princess Louisa Inlet.

The base camp was 'electrified' several years ago with the incorporation of a small generating system . The main purpose of this was to do away with the potentially dangerous gas fired lanterns which had been in use for many years. Electric lights now run continually in the kitchen, equipment area, and a few out buildings.

The system generates 12 volt DC power, and uses batteries for storage. A small inverter converts the 12 volts DC to 120 volt AC for powering the laptop computer charger, small AC tools and compact florescent lights. Other lights run directly off the 12 volts batteries.

An example of the latest in micro hydro generators, this permanent magnet unit produces 3 phase power at either 12, 24 or 48 volts, which is then rectified to DC. Water is supplied by 700 feet of 3 inch plastic pipe. Power is carried to "The Barn", the main building at base camp on 300 feet of used aluminum wire where it is fed into a battery bank. A 1500 watt inverter then produces standard 117 volt AC for use by regular appliances.

The most recent additions to the power system includes automatic regulation, a 1500 watt inverter for powering a deep freeze, AC lighting, and a small hot water tank. On the left is the control room where the power is distributed, and on the right is the power house which feeds the juice to the barn through a 300 foot long cable.


5. Buttle Lake
Strathcona Lodge, a 100 kW plant, owner built.

This project is an almost identical parallel to Malibu. The operator of the lodge had been relying on diesel generators for many years. He was aware of the potential energy available in a creak which flowed into Buttle lake, about 2 miles from the camp. The only alternative was a high tension line across the lake, which might have been on the moon considering the cost in bringing power under the lake.

Over several seasons he and a small crew built a low dam, installed the pipeline and cleared out a path for an overhead power line. The generator was located on the shore of the lake, the penstock crossing under the road. The power line ran up and over a ridge to the camp.

During the dry summers there is insufficient water to power the entire camp, so the diesel generator is used. The hydro plant can still provide hot water and space heating as needed.

Switch gear and controls. Two nozzle Pelton turbine.


6. Conroy Creek
50 kW plant on the way to Whistler Mtn.

Conroy Creek is on the road to the Whistler ski resort. There had been and old homestead here for many years, owned by a fellow who was a genius in the field of small hydro. He passed on a number of years ago and the site was bought by a Vancouver man.

Due to the sites isolation there is no source of electricity, so once again small hydro was the logical choice. In the summer of 1999 I was involved in the rebuilding of this excellent project. New generating equipment was installed along with the most modern controllers available. The plant capacity is designed to be 50 kW. This is more than enough to provide all the electrical demand on the property. Excess power is converted to hot water stored in large tanks. Electronic governing maintains precise power line frequency, and additional load management permits a total load of over 100 kW to be connected to the grid at all times.

Conroy creek flows through a small rock canyon just above the site, making the pickup and delivery of water an easy matter. The total head is just under 100 feet, resulting in a pressure of just under 44 psi. The flow rate is in the order of 12 cfs at maximum output.

View of penstock, turbine
and generator.

The ballast load tank used
to absorb excess power.


7. Three Forks BC
Owner built and operated, power being sold to utility.

This site is operated by one of a small number of "IPP's", or independent power producers. the owner installs the system, then has a contract to sell the power to the local utility. Nice work, it you can get it. Sites are rare, and contracts even more so. For those lucky enough to own such a plant, is a continual source of revenue. This plant is in the 150 kW range, and was constructed entirely by the owner.

The penstock crosses under a road to the power
house which is built next to the river.


8. Abandoned mine shaft serving as a penstock.
Unique IPP with low head, high flow site.

Another example of an IPP system. This unique site uses an abandoned mine shaft as the tunnel for the water. Steel pipes carry part of the creek into the a tunnel in rock face above the falls, where it drops 50 feet down a shaft. It then emerges in another steel pipe and descends to the power house. This site produces 80 to 100 kilo watts and is fed directly into the utility grid.


9. New life for an old friend.
12 kW hydro with 7000 foot long penstock.

An old jeep at the start of the long trail up to the intake at 1500 feet.
Winching long lengths of 4 inch plastic pipe for this hydro.
We pulled it from the inlet up to the 565 feet level using a chain saw powered winch.

We built the intake filter right into the 8 inch pipe leading from the river.
Water falls through the coanda filter right in to the plastic pipe. It works like a champ!
There was this huge rock at the exact place we needed one to build the head tank.

The box is built from 2 by 6 cedar and sits on 10 poured concrete pads fitted under the base.
Both the new 4 inch and existing 3 inch pipe lines feed the box.
Trapped air in the long delivery pipe causes the water to blast out at times. The pipes are now flanged to the box.

All hooked up and running under 245 psi. Excess power is dumped as heat.
Switch geer and metering panels together with automatic shut down sensors and a scada system.
Two of the best crew I have ever worked with.

The load tank which absorbes excess energy and governs the turbine speed.