Limerick tidal energy company to develop its first commercial device after 12 months of successful tests
GKinetic’s prototype device tested at Limerick Docks generates outputs beyond international industry standards
Company’s unique invention for ‘off-grid’ communities around the world
A Limerick tidal energy developing a unique technology for ‘off grid’ locations around the world is to develop its first commercial device after the successful completion of its prototype testing programme.
GKinetic Energy Ltd, based in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, will develop its first 25kW commercial device after its 8kW unit generated outputs above international industry standards. The device will be capable of generating enough electricity to power up to 15 homes.
Horizon 2020 grant funding of €2.7million has been received through Gkinetic’s manufacturing partner DesignPro Ltd, which is based in Rathkeale, to commercialise 25kW and 60kW devices using its unique technology.
The GKinetic device, which will replace dirty fuels like diesel, operates in rivers and its differentiator is that its turbines – placed at either side of a vertical cylinder – exploit the natural phenomena that occurs when water accelerates around an obstacle. Research shows that the power available through this acceleration is twice that of natural water flow.
The compact design and size of the GKinetic device also means that it is easily deployed in rivers, operating in depths as shallow as 2m and widths of 3m. This means remote, off-grid communities in locations such as Canada, Siberia, Polynesia and a host of African, and South American nations, now having the option of this ground-breaking, green solution for their energy requirements.
Its 8kW prototype has been successfully tested at the Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) operated Limerick Docks for the past year. Tests at the Limerick docks, which doubles as hugely successful commercial port and Ireland’s largest marine test tank, have supported the initial results from one of the world’s leading tidal laboratories, the IFREMAR centre in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France. The 25kW device will also be tested at Limerick Docks prior to being deployed at certified river or estuary test sites.
A number of invited guests and key industry stakeholders were among those present to witness the latest round of tests at Limerick Docks where the towing of it replicates river flow. They included one of the world’s leading researchers of renewable energy opportunities Dr. Eric Bibeau, who runs the Canadian Hydro Kinetic Turbine Testing Centre at the University of Manitoba, Canada; Jim Gannon, CEO of Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which is partly funding the research and Pat Keating, CEO of Shannon Foynes Port Company, which operates Limerick Docks and is hosting the tests.
Welcoming GKinetic’s work, Dr. Bibeau said: “In Canada we have First Nations remote communities running energy off diesel. There is big opportunity in this area because if you want to move away from diesel for energy, you are no longer looking at a few million dollars. These communities no longer welcome diesel generators. They are tired of the smell, they are tired of diesel seeping into the ground. Nobody would be subject to living with diesel fumes in the city and people just assume that people in remote communities just accept it. So, whoever goes out and makes a stable system and cost-effective device capable of being operated for 5 years, there are communities actively looking for those systems.”
SEAI CEO Jim Gannon said: “Ireland has some of the best marine renewable resources in the world. SEAI is leading the development of this new sector by assisting the technology developers and growing our test facilities. SEAI has supported GKinetic throughout its development process, from concept right through to this testing to-day. It’s a great achievement for them and it’s very exciting that they are moving on to develop their first commercial device. This validates Ireland as a centre for smart, renewable technologies and brings us closer to another viable source of clean energy for Ireland.”
SFPC CEO Pat Keating said: “We are delighted to see such a revolutionary device created here in Limerick. We have put a lot of time and effort into developing a strategic marine renewable arm for Shannon Foynes Port Company. People see the docks as a port facility but it is actually a very viable renewable energy device test centre as well. It’s the largest test tank in the country, 400m by 100m long, with zero-flow which is important for these devices.”
GKinetic CEO Vincent McCormack said: “This is a very exciting time for us and it was great to have our partners here to witness the latest round of testing for the device. Our progress to date would not be possible without these partners so it was really gratifying for us to be able to illustrate just how well placed their support is.
“When we first started looking at this we identified what the problems were within the industry and a key one was deployment cost. We came up with a floating device that accelerates the flow into the turbines so we are actually getting double the speed of the water and, therefore, greater power. We are now going to develop our first commercial unit but that will require rigorous testing over two years and once we’re beyond that we expect to be into full production of 25kW machines in 2020. We are fully funded out for that period to bring the design to commercialisation.”