For almost a year now, a small hydro turbine has been generating electricity around the clock, seven days a week, in a small nondescript shed downstream of the Manton Dam. The hydro turbine is another sign of Power and Water Corporation’s commitment to demonstrate and invest in renewable energy.
The Manton hydro turbine has recently been added to the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Credit Registry, to enable Small-scale Technology Certificates to be acknowledged as part of the legislated Renewable Energy Target.
The Manton hydro turbine produces a modest 4kW, which is enough to power a few energy-conscious houses. This is a small-scale operation compared to the big hydro systems in the Snowy mountains or Tasmania. However it is 4kW that has been harnessed from flow that was otherwise meandering aimlessly down the riverbed.
The Manton Dam hydro turbine demonstrates that the Top End rains have the potential to be harnessed for reliable power generation, day and night. Unlike the daily cyclical power from solar and tidal systems, this small hydro system leaves those systems in its wake for its 24/7 availability. The other 24/7 source of renewable energy in the Top End is the electricity generated from the landfill gas captured at the Shoal Bay landfill site.
Manton Dam is used primarily for recreational purposes these days, so a constant height in the dry season is desirable for boaties. The small amount of flow to turn the turbine in the dry season is not expected to impact on the dry season water levels. In the wet season the dam is full and excess water flows over the dam.
The small hydro turbine is a precursor to a proposed larger scale hydro turbine project that will harness the capacity of the roaring wet season overflow at the Manton Dam. The wet season flow will make a more significant contribution to the insatiable demand for electricity at the time of year when the air conditioner replaces the dog as man’s best friend in the wet season, thus contributing to increased energy demands.
The future looks bright as Power and Water continues to embrace renewable energy in the Top End and right across the NT.