As part of GKinetic’s ongoing work in the +CityxChange project, the company showcased one of their 12kW units in the heart of Limerick city from the 19th – 21st of September 2023. The aim of the demonstration was to allow people to see the unit in real-life and share their thoughts and feedback via the following survey being ran independently by NUIG: https://nuigalwaybusiness.fra1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8IkVsPV3yFdybHg.
As way of background, the unit is a ‘hydrokinetic energy converter’ that can generate clean, reliable electricity from the natural kinetic movement found in free-flowing water. There are no dams or permanent civil infrastructure needed and it can be easily relocated or removed if needed. Above the surface all that can be seen is a tidy, low-profile platform which houses all the electrical equipment for the unit. Underneath the water are two vertical axis hydrokinetic turbines that are turned by the force of the water to generate predictable, local energy.
When running at full capacity, the 12kW unit that was on display can output enough power to meet the full electrical needs of 17 Irish homes. In remote communities where energy usage is lower, one turbine can power an entire village of 80-90 homes.
This highly innovative demonstration was part of an EU funded smart cities project called ‘+CityxChange’ which is led by two Lighthouse Cities; Limerick (Ireland) and Trondheim (Norway). There are also 5 ‘Follower Cities’ involved, including: Alba Iulia (RO), Pisek (CZ), Võru (EE), Smolyan (BG) and Sestao (ES).
The aim of the project is to achieve sustainable urban ecosystems that have zero emissions and establish a 100% renewable energy city-region by 2050. This turbine demonstration aims to highlight the significant untapped energy potential in our free-flowing waterways such as rivers, canals, estuaries and tidal streams and to prove that it is possible to harness this energy with little-to-no negative impacts and in a way that is harmonious to the society and environment.
Being a zero-carbon, renewable energy device means it can deliver instant carbon emissions reduction, offering a feasible alternative where other generation solutions may not be suitable. Unique to hydrokinetic technologies is the predictability of the supply. Unlike solar or wind, the power output can often be fully predictable meaning a reliable baseload supply, energy security and certainty of payback and return on investment.
‘It will rise with the moon’, is a phrase now well known and loved by residents and visitors to Limerick city alike as it can be seen written on the quay walls from O’Callaghan Strand looking toward the city. The phrase refers to the predictability of the tide, rising and falling with the cycles of the moon so it is very fitting to have a turbine that harnesses this natural phenomenon right alongside it for what is an incredibly unique and innovative showcase.
The technology has been developed by local Limerick company ‘GKinetic Energy’ and its unique design concepts that make it so efficient are covered by 9 granted patents with a new patent filed earlier this year. The unit demonstrated is now ready for commercial pilot projects and the company is busy securing suitable multinational partners such as Japanese pump manufacturer Torishima to help its market roll out.
The turbines will be used to bring more green energy ‘online’, displacing unsustainable, fossil fuel alternatives such as diesel generators. Thanks to the predictability of the supply the turbines will enable access to zero-carbon, energy security for those who need it most.
An independent team of PhD students from NUIG are looking to gather feedback on people’s reactions and thoughts to seeing the device in the river. You can view video footage of the device in Limerick and find details of the survey all here: https://gkinetic.com/tidal-ges-survey-details-link/.
It would be greatly appreciated for anyone interested in supporting the project to complete the survey.