Nowadays renewable energy production faces certain problems.
First and foremost there is the question of profitability: for various reasons, most sources are still far too dependent on government subsidies.
Second, energy sources like wind or solar are volatile and largely dependent on their environment which is causing grid stability problems. Other sources like hydro-power are much less affected by this. However, traditional hydro-power projects using large constructions and dams unfortunately sometimes cause other problems such as flooding, migration, increased levels of methane emissions and desertification, etc.
Lastly, there is the problem of geographical location. In remote places with few energy supplies, diesel generators are often used to generate very expensive and unhealthy energy for a few hours a day. A form of decentralized green energy production with standard materials and easy installation is needed.
To tackle these problems, Turbulent is developing a new decentralized hydro-power solution. Hydro-power is a more stable source of energy and can serve as a base load which addresses the grid stability problem.
To prevent the enormous side effects of dams, it is an efficient run-of-the-river solution which works with a low height difference of only 1m – 3m, making it feasible in most rivers. These hydro-power installations are fish friendly, relatively small and are constructed with standard materials in a modular way. Combined with our optimally designed impeller and control/monitoring software, Turbulent is able to deliver an energy source which adapts itself to its environment ensuring that it works optimally at any given moment. Besides adjusting the installation to its optimum, the monitoring software is also connected with other installations forming a learning network in order to be able to predict maintenance requirements.
Most hydro-power plant developers focus on low rotating speed of their turbine. This means that they are working with high torques and this forces them to use large infrastructures, like a concrete base made to specific specs. While Turbulent goes for small and standard, lightness, ease of installation and maintenance.
Besides, a big slow turning rotor requires lots of installation equipment and expertise to build this kind of plants. Because we use smaller components, our logistics and installation are much easier and more efficient. And the software does the rest, from efficiency control to predictive maintenance. This means that, for instance, the basin can be built using any cylindrical object that might be found locally. If our end customer deviates from the designs, it doesn’t affect the vortex shape, and the control algorithm modifies the turbine accordingly to reach the highest efficiency. The way the propeller is positioned, works and is controlled is patented.
This project is solving some of the greatest problems currently present within renewable energy. However bringing clean energy in a sustainable way is only part of our goal. The shift towards decentralized and smart energy production will be our biggest contribution. One of our target markets are characterized by having a feeble grid or, in remote places, none at all. Bringing energy to these areas will not only change energy production from dirty and expensive diesel generators towards a clean alternative, but will also increase their living standards, their general health, economic possibilities and ultimately positively affect their whole life and community.
Moreover, the technology itself has the capability of creating synergies in its working environment, by for instance adding oxygen to the water stream due to the vortex, or by combining the plant with a waste recovery and recycling system.
Future applications of this technology will be investigated, but one important application can already be found in protecting offshore wind farms from soil erosion by extracting the turbulence of flows around the mono-poles, thus increase the lifespan and considerably save on offshore maintenance costs. However, further research has to be done on this application. You are welcome to join our efforts on any future applications.
Hope you find this post interesting. What’s your thoughts on current problems and solutions of renewable energy production?