NewsTurbulent turbines: what can small-scale hydroelectric power plants do?

Turbulent turbines: what can small-scale hydroelectric power plants do?

Created: 09/06/2022, 5:15 p.m

Eines der Pilotprojekte von Turbulent in Chile.
One of Turbulent’s pilot projects in Chile. © Turbulent

A new company from Belgium wants to revolutionize the world of hydroelectric power plants. Your turbine can be installed on almost any river.

Kassel – Energy from hydropower: This is usually known from huge hydroelectric power plants that generate energy via rivers or reservoirs. Tidal power plants have also become established and are now widely known. The problem with these “classic” hydroelectric power plants: Only a few places are suitable for the large structures, and they are also expensive and complex to build.

A small company from Belgium now wants to solve these problems. The promise: Green electricity from rivers and canals even with low water fall. The power plants should also be able to be built inexpensively and without much prior knowledge. How do Turbulent’s miniature hydroelectric power stations work? And how efficient are they?

Hydroelectric power stations from Turbulent: Almost every river is suitable

The turbines should be able to be installed on practically any river or canal. Even a drop of 1.5 meters is enough for the smallest system that Turbulent has to offer. The power plants are placed in a small concrete structure. The water running through creates a vortex suction, from which electricity is generated by means of a “turbulence vortex turbine”, the company explains on its website.

The special thing about it: In contrast to conventional hydroelectric power plants, the water pressure remains low due to the circulating water flow. According to Turbulent, fish and other aquatic life can swim through and are not endangered. The construction can be operated either directly in a river or via a canal on land.

The start-up promises numerous advantages of the mini power plants: they should continuously generate energy, be easy to install, require little maintenance, can be monitored remotely and, last but not least, be harmless to fish. At the same time, according to the inventors, they generate as much electricity as a solar system the size of a soccer field – with only eight percent of the space. A single turbine can supply up to 60 houses with electricity.

Turbulent Small Hydroelectric Plants: Unsuitable for large cities

According to its own statements, the company has received 15,000 inquiries since 2018. At that time, Turbulent went viral on social networks with a video. There are now power plants in France, Estonia, Indonesia, Chile and Portugal. So far only on a small scale: the Turbulent hydroelectric power plants produce between 5.5 kW and 15 kW. For comparison: According to the Federal Association of German Hydroelectric Power Plants, the 7,300 hydroelectric power plants in Germany produce a total of around 5,600 MW – and at the same time only cover 3.5 percent of gross electricity consumption in Germany.

Turbulent’s hydroelectric power plants are therefore not really suitable for supplying large cities in densely populated countries with energy. However, that is not the aim of the inventors: “We bring clean and affordable electricity to remote areas by developing new technologies and empowering local people to use them,” says the Belgian website. And their power plants seem ideal for that. In Germany, wind power remains the problem child. The expansion is progressing slowly. (pron)

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