INTERVIEW - Irish company preps to test 25-kW river turbine in France

Large-scale device underwater. Source: DesignPro Ltd

December 14 (Renewables Now) - Irish company DesignPro Ltd has started building a 25-kW hydrokinetic river turbine that will be tested for a year in France and sales head Roisin Mc Cormack tells Renewables Now that the market potential for such devices is significant and untapped.

The custom machine builder recently announced that it has selected the Seeneoh test site on the Garonne river in Bordeaux, France to trial the device. The turbine is expected to be completed in March 2018 and to be deployed at the French test facility in April 2018.

West Limerick, Ireland-based DesignPro is working to bring to market small-scale turbines of up to 100 kW for use in rivers and estuaries. Earlier in 2017 it secured EU funding for a EUR-2.7-million (USD 3.2m) project whose objective is the commercialisation of two devices, of 25 kW and 60 kW. The larger machine is scheduled to start testing in July 2018 at a yet-to-be-selected site.

The turbines are based on technology developed by another Irish firm, GKinetic Energy Ltd. The two companies started their relationship in 2014 when GKinetic was looking for a machine builder to construct a prototype. They signed a licence agreement in 2016 that gave DesignPro the rights to commercialise turbines of up to 100 kW. GKinetic kept rights for larger devices and for tidal/ocean applications. DesignPro, which is solely focused on the river devices, tells Renewables Now that GKinetic is currently exploring partners, sites and opportunities for the deployment of a 250-kW tidal device.

The GKinetic technology consists of two vertical axis turbines attached to a buoyant vessel, which is shaped so as to accelerate the water flow into the turbines. The device is deployed by means of anchoring in the flow.

The turbines that DesignPro is to commercialise are aimed at the niche market of hydrokinetic generation for rivers, canals and estuaries.

"Within the booming renewable sector, the niche area of hydrokinetic generation specifically for rivers, canals and estuaries is still relatively new and the resource itself is for the most part untapped," said Sales and Marketing Manager Roisin Mc Cormack.

The world's technically feasible river hydro potential for hydrokinetic devices is estimated at 200 GW. According to the company, only 5% of this potential has been exploited to date.

"Our key target customers are those living in remote areas and communities who currently have a poor electricity supply but do have a great river or estuary resource nearby. Our solution could provide energy security and independence to these end users by supplying reliable and predictable energy," Roisin Mc Cormack added.

(EUR 1 = USD 1.183) 

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Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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