The innovative invention ‘Rotor’ is a small low-cost mobile hydro power plant which provides electricity for rural areas without grid connection
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 1.4 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity – of which about 300 million people live close to rivers. Electrical supply plays an important role in improving the living conditions and economic development. For lighting, supply of small loads, such as refrigerators and water pumps or charging of mobile phones, there is a very real basic need in all remote, rural areas of the world. Yet current solutions are very expensive with high running costs, complicated and high tech machinery and site specific!
During many project implementations in developing countries we experienced very often the lack of rural power supply as the major problem of rural development. Driven by these impressions and experiences the first ideas to solve this problem through an easy way were born. We chose to stick close to our competences and core experiences of the fields of development, environmental engineering and renewable energies and started the first cooperation with the TU Munich.
As a team of various backgrounds and generations we are a very fruitful combination of members. Since all of us have a similar core belief in a sustainable approach we are connected on common ground. Our claim and philosophy of work, care and cooperation is met by each one of us.
The innovative invention ‘Rotor’ is a small kinetic hydro power plant which provides access to electricity for areas without grid connection. The basic concept applies the construction principle of a Darrieus wind turbine to water. A vertical axis three-blade water wheel is mounted in the center of a circular tube. The rotational energy is transferred by the axis to a specially designed generator. The Rotor is fixed to the embankment, a bridge or something similar by mooring ropes. As a robust, plug and play energy solution system our product offers individual and reliable access to electricity for off-grid areas. Up to now most hydropower stations are individually configured, site specific and expensive products. The ‘Rotor’ addresses this niche and provides electricity as an out-of-the-box, plug-and-play solution in various geographic settings with a convincing cost-performance ratio. Even at low flow velocities electricity can be produced reliably.
The ’Rotor‘ is a low-cost, robust, easy-to-maintain energy solution with primary goal of energy accessibility for off grid areas. It can be set up easily and requires neither specific skills nor machinery. The ‘Rotor’ is almost entirely made of worldwide available recycled materials. Therefore maintenance is very customer friendly and affordable. Compared to other small scale renewable energy solutions the invention offers a much higher factor of “Energy Returned on Energy Invested” (ERoEI, i.e. harvest factor).
During the first collaboration between our team and the TU Munich a first prototype with proven technical concept got developed. Using the velocity of rivers was the foundation of our concept. The idea was triggered through the rural areas around Amazonas areas in South America were our last project was conducted. During the phase of development the concept changed often and got optimized and further developed. Through many practical tests in the laboratory and in real life circumstances the technical concept, mechanical approach as well as the materials got further adapted and developed. The second and third technically improved prototypes were successfully built already and are ready for permanent testing and electricity production. Intensive entrepreneurial coaching by Social Entrepreneurship Akademie and UnternehmerTUM is successfully proceeding. In various workshops, i.e. McKinsey “DesignToValue”, Industrial Design “Design Enterprise”, TUM Entrepreneurship Technology Lab. Strategic contacts have been established. For pilot implementations within the focused target markets negotiations with possible partners are underway. First pilot projects in East Africa, South America, and South-East Asia are already envisioned and ready to be conducted as a next step. The design is not yet commercialized, but Intellectual property got secured through registration of the design and technical concept. Market entry including series production is envisioned for early 2015.
In 2013 the Mobile Hydro got awarded with the German Recycling Design Award.
Further on Mobile hydro successfully reached the awarded stage of the finalists of the Empowering People Award of the Siemens Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya.
In May 2014 the technology has been successfully presented and awarded with the Innovation Award of the European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA) in Istanbul, Turkey