Innovative Flowconverter to energise Dutch province

GES first partnership project launched in Drenthe

The province of Drenthe in the Netherlands has installed an innovative, environmentally friendly water turbine called Flowconverter near the Ossesluis locks in Hoogeveen. The test phase will last 6 months, and is part of a Green Deal signed by Deputy Tjisse Stelpstra last summer.

The Flowconverter was introduced at one of the Green Drinks organised by GES a few years ago. One of our aims is to foster innovative projects and help our members to find partners; we are therefore delighted to follow the development and success of Environeers.

Developed in Germany by Environeers Energy GmbH together with the University of Bremen, the Drenthe Flowconverter was built by Machinefabriek Emmen. “When Machinefabriek Emmen came to us with its idea for a Flowconverter, we were quite sceptical at first. Generating energy from flowing water is not a new concept, but this idea was about producing energy through slow flowing water,” says Stelpstra.

Variable flow velocity

“The Flowconverter offers opportunities for generating renewable energy in regions with slow and fast flowing waterways. The system the developers had in mind had to be one that could be scaled up as well as applied virtually anywhere in water systems without any hydraulic interventions,” the deputy adds.

Conventional hydropower plants require strong currents and often block waterways. The Flowconverter however is smartly designed to run on a variety of flow velocities, which means it can be implemented in slow-flowing canals as well as the sea. Furthermore, it does not impound water. By combining modules, plants can be adjusted to the body of water and used under all conditions.

Easy installation

Attached only to a round pole, the Flowconverter can be fixated at a variety of different points to allow water to flow around it, which in turn makes it fish friendly and minimises the environmental impact. It does not require any constructive measures.

The coated current turbine creates an optimal flow situation for energy generation, reducing counter pressure and vibrations in the turbine. Consequently, material stress is minimised, which helps keep costs low.

Fish friendly

As far as the Flowconverter never covers the complete wide of a river or canal, fish can swim around the installation and do not get harmed.

Small investment

“We will initially produce up to 10 kWh of energy,” explains Arnold Popken, initiator of the project. “The energy will be delivered back to the grid. To keep the costs under control, we opted for a small-scale approach. If the trial is successful, upscaling is obvious.”

The test is to be completed in the spring of 2017, and according to Popken, it provides valuable insights into hydropower energy. The big advantage compared to existing and proven technology is that the Flowconverter’s costs are low and easily fits in to existing structures. “This makes it possible to generate power with a small investment in a sustainable way,” says Popken.

Green Deal

Deputy Tjisse Stelpstra of the province of Drenthe signed a “Green Deal” last summer which supports the Flowconverter project. “The Energy Agenda states that we are committed to innovation. Energy drawn from slowly flowing water is a good example. This kind of innovation is good for the nature of Drenthe as well as for employment.” The test can generate ten new full-time jobs if successful.

Energy innovation

“With this energy innovation, we want to not only ensure the continuity of our company but also give substance to the worldwide CO2 target,” said Derk Jan Weeke, director of Machinefabriek Emmen, in July during the signing of the Green Deal.

More about the launch:

Andrea Schaller

Founder and editor Go4Ges

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