For thousands of years, people have turned to water to help them with numerous tasks from grinding grain into wheat and sawing lumber to producing electricity. Today, hydropower is the largest single renewable energy source for electricity generation in the United States. All hydropower requires is water flowing through a turbine to make electricity; only energy is removed from the water (that, and trash from the river that could clog up or damage the turbines). Water exits a hydropower facility slower and cleaner, but otherwise unaltered. There are no significant changes to temperature, pH, or dissolved oxygen due to water passing through the turbine.
At its manufacturing facility in North Carolina, Piedmont Hydro Technologies (PHT) not only harnesses water to run its own operations, the company is a systems integrator that designs, builds, and installs control and automation systems for small-sized hydropower facilities. Their customers are private owner/operators, corporate owners, utilities, and municipalities that own and operate commercial hydroelectric facilities.
Kevin Edwards, Owner of PHT, explained how the company started: “When faced with the technical problems common to small hydro when first developing our own hydro project, we were frustrated by the lack of solutions, much less affordable solutions, on the market for small hydro. This was especially true for automation, which is crucial for small plants that likely can’t have a full-time operator. We knew there had to be a better way, and as experienced engineers, we had the tools to create better solutions for ourselves. After thousands of hours of engineering development, we’ve developed a vast amount of experience and knowledge about small hydro and pass that expertise onto our customers.”
As a systems integrator, PHT relies on AutomationDirect for products and service. “We strive for technical excellence and that’s why we partner with AutomationDirect. Our control systems increase up time and help our customers’ plants make more power. Knowing we receive fast, reliable service from AutomationDirect helps us keep that commitment to our customers,” said Edwards.
From their experience running their own hydropower operation, the staff at PHT not only shares their technical expertise with their customers, they share their support of hydropower. Edwards said: “We’re strong believers in hydropower providing renewable energy. No fuel, including water, is consumed to make hydropower. Energy that would have otherwise been wasted by tumbling down the riverbed is instead turned into clean electric power; electricity produced with zero emissions. Hydropower plays an important role in providing energy and with automation, many existing dams could be used to provide even more safe, clean energy.”
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