Powering Cathodic Protection Systems with Alternative Energy
Can alternative energy sources be integrated into Reclamation cathodic protection systems to reduce the installation and operating cost of these systems?
Electrical utility supplied power connections for ICCP systems located in isolated areas can require the utility to install miles of electrical utility poles to get from the nearest electrical interconnection point to the cathodic protection system. The goal of this study is to identify more cost effective alternatives to this power source that will still allow ICCP systems to meet its operating requirements.
There are several alternative energy sources, including solar, wind, hydropower, and traditional fuel sources, which may provide viable alternatives to utility supplied electrical connection. These energy sources each have potential cost, maintenance, or reliability impacts when compared against utility supplied electrical connections.
Need and Benefit
Need: Existing utility supplied power sources can often be prohibitively expensive in rural and isolated areas. A need for more cost efficient power sources is pushing Reclamation to consider alternative energy sources in new installation. It is important that the capabilities of the alternative energy source and needs of the cathodic protection system be sufficiently understood to prevent use of a system in an application for which it is not well suited. Failure of the cathodic protection system to perform its intended function could cause significant negative impacts, including premature aging or failure of areas of the piping system.
Benefit: Pipelines represent a large part of Reclamation's inventory of structures, primarily larger transmission pipelines and delivery pipelines for agricultural use. Recently, Reclamation has also started designing and building pipelines to deliver water to communities and cities, including the multi-million dollar Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project. Pipeline failure due to corrosion is of major concern since these pipelines distribute water to cities and, therefore, will be under continuous operation and not seasonal. Many of our pipelines, including the Navajo Gallup pipelines, are located in remote areas where standard sources of power are either not available or not easily accessible. Grid power can also be costly to install, operate, and maintain. Systems utilizing alternative energy sources are generally self-contained and would eliminate the reliance on the power company maintaining lines to the rectifier. With the right protective barrier, these systems would also deter instances in which farmers have "borrowed" power from the ICCP system, effectively eliminating any corrosion protection on the pipeline.
Urgency: While alternative energy sources are available, Reclamation has not utilized them and it is unclear whether or not the existing technologies will work in the wide variety of environments in which Reclamation projects are located.
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