In recent years, the world has seen a growing demand for clean, renewable energy sources. With the increasing awareness of environmental degradation, the need for sustainable and eco-friendly energy solutions has become more pressing. In this context, hydroelectric power has emerged as a crucial source of clean energy, capable of providing electricity to remote areas using sustainable and fish-safe hydropower. With their new compact hydroelectric turbine, Natel Energy and Symbion Power are set to bring this innovative technology to communities around the world, especially in remote and underdeveloped areas.
What is Hydroelectric Power?
Hydroelectric power is a clean, renewable source of energy that harnesses the power of moving or falling water to generate electricity. This power is captured by a turbine, which then spins a generator to produce electricity. Hydroelectric power has been used to generate electricity for communities around the world, from small-scale electric generators to massive dams. One of the primary benefits of hydroelectric power is that it is a clean and renewable source of energy that does not produce any pollutants or emissions.
The Challenge of River-based Turbines
However, the use of hydroelectric power also presents its own set of challenges. For example, large dams can be detrimental to wildlife and cause negative impacts if they break. On the other hand, river-based turbines can cause issues for local fish, meaning covers must be used to prevent them from going in, which is expensive and creates additional complexity. Additionally, river-based turbines must be designed for low hydraulic heads, which is typically measured as a length (like meters or feet) and represents the pressure at a certain point in the fluid.
The Innovative Compact Hydroelectric Turbine from Natel Energy and Symbion Power
To address these challenges, Natel Energy has invented their new compact hydroelectric turbine, designed to have a safe and efficient fish passage. The turbine features curved blades that are thick and have a specially designed slant, making it possible for fish to swim through safely and eliminating the need for fine fish screens. Additionally, this innovative design reduces operational and development costs and increases plant efficiency. The turbine’s capacities range from 30 kW to 3 MW, and it can be integrated into matrix designs for larger scale developments of up to 30 MW.
The Advantages of Natel Energy’s Compact Hydroelectric Turbine
Natel Energy’s compact hydroelectric turbine has demonstrated fish passage survival rates of over 99%, which is similar to that of a fish traversing a natural river section. The turbine manages this at efficiencies greater than 90%, which is extremely good for a small turbine of this size. The turbines are available with runner diameters measuring just 0.5 meters to 2.5 meters, making them compact and modular. Furthermore, they are designed for low head applications, making them an ideal solution for remote areas where grid electricity is not available.
My Hydro – A New Venture from Natel Energy and Symbion Power
Natel Energy and Symbion Power have launched a new venture called My Hydro, a Pan African power investor, which plans to install Natel’s new compact hydro turbine in 33 potential sites throughout the Democratic Republic of Congo. This will not be the first tests for Natel’s turbines, as one has been extensively tested at their Monroe Hydro Facility, which was commissioned in September 2020 using a 300 kilowatt turbine and 5 meters of hydraulic head. The first project in Africa will be on the Lubi River in the Kasai Province, where grid electricity is not available and the population exceeds more than 4 million people.
In conclusion, Natel Energy and Symbion Power’s new compact hydroelectric turbine offers a solution to bringing much-needed electricity to remote areas while being sustainable, fish-safe, and significantly cheaper than off-grid solar. The turbine design features curved blades that eliminate the need for fine fish screens, reducing operational costs and increasing plant efficiency. With capacities ranging from 30 kW to 3 MW and the ability to be integrated into larger matrix designs, the turbine is designed for low head applications and has demonstrated over 99% fish passage survival rates. The turbine has been tested extensively, including at Monroe Hydro Facility and a successful deployment in Austria. The first project in Africa is set to begin in 2024 and aims to bring electricity to areas without grid access in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The new compact hydroelectric turbine is an exciting advancement in the field of sustainable energy, and we can expect to see more of it in the future.