Limerick water turbine project is making waves

 Positive developments at DesignPro and GKinetic

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Limerick water turbine project is making waves

Vincent McCormack, GKinetic, with one of the turbines

TWO WEST Limerick companies currently developing and commercialising an innovative water turbine device are continuing to make waves since being awarded EU funding a number of months ago.

Rathkeale-based engineering company DesignPro has created hydrokinetic turbines using technology developed by Newcastle West tidal energy company GKinetic.

This technology is completely unique and can produce a constant supply of zero-carbon energy by doubling the speed of water to the turbine.

And GKinetic Energy, headed up by Vincent McCormack, has just received €99,562 in funding from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) Prototype Development Fund to carry out further optimisation and testing in the Limerick Docks this coming August.

“This funding achievement follows an exciting year of business development activities. GKinetic is ramping up plans to design, build and demonstrate a large scale 250 kW tidal device after successfully setting up a consortium of EU project partners,” said a spokesperson for GKinetic.

“This funding will see the deployment of an improved prototype device in the Limerick Docks, a purpose built test facility the company setup working with Shannon Foynes Port Company.

“The company will collaborate with NUI Galway, MaREI and Numerics Warehouse to carry out optimisation tests on key components of the device,” added the spokesperson.

Testing is projected to run for a six week period.

This follows on from a very successful testing phase in the Limerick Docks last year, where the deployment method and device stability were thoroughly tested and have been improved.

GKinetic, founded in 2014, “has a vision” to establish the Limerick Docks as a centre of excellence for testing marine energy technology.

The innovative hydrokinetic turbine device can accelerate the flow of water to produce zero-carbon energy in both river and tidal water sources.

Amid all of the exciting news for the turbine team, DesignPro has been acknowledged as a ‘Champion of EU Research’.

In a recent awards ceremony hosted by Enterprise Ireland, over 300 project leaders were honoured for their contribution to Irish research and innovation.

The event saw 16 projects singled out for their outstanding achievement, and DesignPro was one of only 2 SMEs in the country to receive recognition for their success in the €75 billion Horizon 2020 EU Framework Programme.

This award follows DesignPro’s success in February 2017, when the company secured EU funding for a €2.7m Horizon 2020 project to develop a range of innovative hydrokinetic river turbines.

“This is a niche and upcoming industry in the renewable energy market. The unique compact design of DesignPro’s technology offers a reliable solution for harnessing natural resources and generating zero-carbon energy for local communities,” said a spokesperson for the company.

The 27-month project officially launched on July 1, starting with five new hires and three more planned in the next six months. There is already a dedicated production and warehouse floor in the pipeline.

“With production plans in place to have a full scale operational device in the water in six months, it’s an exciting time for the company which is at the forefront of this technology, and the first in Ireland to develop this type of renewable energy product.

“This project will see DesignPro expand their operations further by branching out into a separate dedicated unit - the focus is solely on developing the plans to commercialise a full range of innovative, hydrokinetic turbines,” added the spokesperson.

The project means major investment in the Irish economy, creating an additional 15 jobs during the project development stage, and 50 jobs in the Mid-West after commercial roll out.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to put Limerick on the map and reinforce the country’s position as a hub for the development of innovative renewable energy products,” said DesignPro.