DesignPro Renewables outlines the commercialisation of new hydrokinetic turbine technology.
Rivers and estuaries are well distributed all over the world; tapping into these resources using hydrokinetic turbine technology for energy production would provide communities with reliable, clean power and help countries meet their carbon emissions targets. It is clear that with major support and initiatives from the European Commission and other major funding bodies, predictable energy technology like this is making a breakthrough into the energy industry.
EU Funded Project
Irish company DesignPro Renewables have been funded €1.9m for a €2.7m EU Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 Project to develop and commercialise small-scale 25kW (kilowatt) and 60kW hydrokinetic river turbines. DesignPro Renewables is a branch to the parent company DesignPro Automation, who is a leading provider of precision automation and machine build services to a variety of industries.
After completing a successful Horizon 2020 Phase 1 project and now halfway through their Phase 2 project, the technology is now at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6, which means that the machine has been proven and demonstrated in an operational environment. Phase 1 also established that there is a viable market and considerable demand for these river turbines.
The innovative concept involves two vertical axis turbines (VAWTS) placed on either side of a teardrop shaped vessel, the bluff body. This vessel along with the patented Blade Pitch Control System accelerates the water into the turbines allowing for a greater amount of energy production in low flows of water. The device has several benefits:
- The compact design offers a simple deployment system so that the device can be easily placed in rivers. It is not permanently fixed and therefore can be moved if a more suitable site becomes available;
- The turbine is designed to be able to sit on the riverbed if necessary due to falling water levels without the need for extensive civil works;
- The unique device design and rotation of the blades diverts fish and debris away from the turbine blades. The blades rotate at a slow speed of 40rpm, a safety feature that does not affect the turbines performance; and
- The device has an access platform for easily accessible year round operations and maintenance procedures.
These features, along with the compact size of the device, means that it can be deployed in more locations than competing technologies, which opens up more market applications for this product in both grid and off-grid locations.
The project is now finalising the build phase for its 25kW turbine. This device will be deployed in the certified testing facility, Seeneoh, located in Bordeaux, France this summer, where it will undergo extensive operational and environmental testing for a duration of 12 months. During this time, DesignPro will enter the build phase for the 60kW device and prepare for a deployment at a chosen test site location.
The 27-month project, which started in July 2017, will see the company establish manufacturing procedures and fully test the 25kW and 60kW devices for commercialisation. These small-scale hydrokinetic turbine for rivers will be ready for market by October 2019.
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This article will appear in SciTech Europa Quarterly issue 28, which will be published in September, 2018.