As researchers continue to address the growing threat of global warming, engineers are improving and developing new technology to combat one of the earth's primary sources of greenhouse gasses - energy generation.
Renewable energy developments boast finite energy potential, lower greenhouse gasses, and in some cases, long-term cost benefits.
Solar and wind are among the most common types of renewable energy currently used in the United States. The former has been so popular that prices have dropped 70% over the past decade.
These two renewables are helping to shift the general public's mindset on sustainable energy and have paved the way toward research into other types of renewable energies, like hydropower.
Hydropower has shown greater potential for adaptability, energy generation, and lower environmental impact compared to fossil fuels. One company is seeking to make hydropower even more efficient than ever before.
Is It Too Good to Be True?
Canadian-based Idénergie is the name behind a new river turbine that uses kinetic energy to generate up to 12kWh of energy per day - as much power as 12 solar panels.
The design features a waterproof generator, embedded converter, bi-directional converter, and eco-friendly materials that limit disturbance of the local environment.
"Considering numerous studies
about the interactions of the turbines with the ecosystems, Idénergie designed its product to minimize the impact on the aquatic fauna and its habitat. Studies have shown that our Darrieus-type turbines present no harm to the river's ecosystem. Mostly made of noble metals such as aluminum and other environmentally friendly components, the turbine is the greenest among all available renewable energy products. These materials do not react with the environment and are easily recyclable, ensuring a substantial end-of-life value."
Idénergie took inspiration from IKEA to make installation and maintenance easy and accessible. The company states that installing the turbine "requires only three persons with little to no experience at all. No need for cranes, riverbed modifications or any costly civil works."
The company faces a few minor obstacles, including potential permit requirements and costs reaching upwards of $10,000. Still, wave technology is a developing industry. Notoriety, funding, and streamlining will ultimately lower prices, similar to the trend seen with solar energy.
Additionally, the amount of energy that the turbine generates could result in long-term cost savings compared to other off-grid energy arrangements, like installing infrastructure to connect to the grid.
On the bright side, purchasing the turbine comes with an installation package that includes anchors, cables, batteries, a charge controller, and other items.
The internal components also come with a 3-year warranty, and the batteries a 5-year warranty.
A Lasting Potential
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, wave power alone could generate enough energy to support roughly 66% of the country's energy requirements based on 2020 numbers.
This untapped potential has gained interest among engineers as a genuinely viable and vital renewable resource.
There are several ways to harness hydropower. Idénergie's design works similarly to wind energy. A turbine is installed in shallow waters where powerful water flow rotates a rotor, producing energy.
Idénergie's embedded converter helps maximize efficiency by providing "the optimal conversion of electricity, control of the optimal rotational speed, auto start-up of the turbine, continuous power optimization, remote monitoring capabilities, emergency brake, and more."
Despite its few drawbacks, the turbine has excellent potential in off-grid living, renewable energy alternatives, and supplying energy to remote areas across the globe that don't have access to traditional infrastructure or funds to provide constant energy generation.
The turbine provides another example of innovation furthering hydro-energy generation and fossil fuel alternatives.