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Tapping into river and estuary resources using novel turbine technology

An EU initiative is ready to test the first of its two innovative turbine devices. This brings the project one step closer to commercialising the hydrokinetic turbines that will offer a reliable solution for generating zero-carbon energy from rivers and estuaries.

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Hydrokinetic energy has large resource potential. Despite this, it’s still largely untapped with only 5 % exploited up to now. Europe has many small and medium-sized rivers and straits between islands. Currently, technologies require very fast flow speeds and large deployment spaces to make turbine outputs viable. As a result, a large majority of the available market doesn’t have a feasible solution. Exploiting cost-efficient, clean and reliable energy for users The EU-funded DesignPro Renewables project intends to offer such a solution by developing and commercialising two 25 kW and 60 kW hydrokinetic turbines that will enable users to harness clean, predictable energy from flowing water in rivers and estuaries. Ultimately, this will enable Europe and the rest of the world to utilise an abundant, highly accessible resource. According to a press release, the Irish SME and project coordinator DesignPro Renewables unveiled a new and improved turbine design for the 25 kW device that simplifies deployment as well as operation and maintenance procedures for end users. This design “features an integrated platform and state of the art technology that allows for the turbines to be raised out of the water easily to access blades and components most likely to fault without having to remove the entire device.” Hydrokinetic turbine technology for energy production The press release explains that the “concept involves two vertical axis turbines placed on either side of a tear-drop shaped vessel, the bluff body.” Together with the patent-pending Blade Pitch Control system, this vessel speeds up the flow of water into the turbines to produce substantial energy in low flow speeds. “The turbine blades rotate outward, naturally diverting marine life and debris away from the device rotating at a safe, controlled speed of 40 rpm .” The design’s biggest advantage is that it simplifies operations and maintenance procedures for end users. It also increases efficiency, performance and safety while reducing delays and costs. DesignPro Renewables has started building the 25 kW hydrokinetic river turbine. It plans to launch the first full-scale device at a French test site in September. While there, the turbine will undergo extensive operational and environmental testing for about 12 months. Deployment was originally scheduled for March, but the company recognised several ways to optimise the device and its launch. In another press release by DesignPro Renewables, Innovation Manager for the project Vincent McCormack says: “We had built in this window of time in the project to deploy at a later stage but it’s always good to be ambitious to keep momentum up. Having identified a number of areas that could be optimised and would ultimately improve the success and performance of the testing, we made a strategic decision to use this time effectively and implement these further improvements to the technology and the deployment site plans and set up.” The DesignPro Renewables (A range of economically viable, innovative and proven HydroKinetic turbines that will enable users to exploit the huge potential of clean, predictable energy in the world’s rivers, canals and estuaries ) project plans to enter the market with the two turbines in June 2019. They will be specifically designed to cater to a niche, low-power, small-scale energy generation market for rivers, canals and estuaries. Work is now underway on the 60 kW machine. For more information, please see: DesignPro Renewables CORDIS project web page



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