"The project is a good example of the IRC network's growing maturity," says Bröchler. "IRCs are no longer just looking for new technology transfer clients. They now have strong relationships with established clients, whose needs they understand and for whom they can rapidly identify opportunities and partners." For more and more European enterprises, partnership with their regional IRC is a source of real competitive advantage.
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The technology fits perfectly with the power-plant expertise of German engineers Henkel, Rotzsche und Bard, and the two companies have joined forces to harvest the Fulda's energy resources.
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Sited underground, the system monitors upstream water level and selects the best turbine combination to maximise output.
The Finnish company Waterpumps WP Oy has developed submersible compact turbine generators which overcome this limitation.
www.ttn-hessen.de Innovation Relay Centre Hessen/Rheinland-Pfalz (IRC)
www.irc-hessen.de Sunlight concentrator
A static concentrator for photovoltaic cells focuses the sunlight manifold before it reaches the solar cells and enables optical efficiency of 75 - 80% to be achieved. The IRC network has helped companies in Finland and Germany to harness previously unexploited renewable energy by combining compact hydro-turbine technology with power-plant expertise. Electricity can be produced for as little as € 2-3 (£1.4 - £2) per peak watt because the entire optics employed can be made with low technology manufacturing techniques. Renewable synergy. A Global Environment Facility report states that up to five million megawatts of additional electricity will be required by developing countries over the next forty years and components like this static concentrator will create more affordable electricity for countries where climatic conditions have so far prevented the commercial application of solar technology. www.irc-hessen.de. or some years the Fulda river, in the Hessian region of Germany, has been controlled to maintain a two-metre difference in water levels for nine months each year. But until now, this opportunity for hydropower generation has been lost, as the shallow elevation is unsuitable for conventional turbines. Commissioning of submersible compact turbine generators, similar to those that will be installed on the river Fulda during 2002.
They had already identified one another as potential partners. But nothing came of the contact until Hannu Juuso of the Innovation Relay Centre Finland got in touch with colleagues at IRC Hessen/ Rheinland-Pfalz. "Together, we brought representatives of the German firm to Finland," Juuso explains. "IRC Hessen/ Rheinland-Pfalz covered travel costs and we organised a programme of visits to power plants." With both IRCs assisting in negotiations, the visit led to a plan to install two mini-hydro power plants with 15 specially built compact turbine generators.
With a capacity of around 1,000 kW, the plants will not only increase the share of renewable energy but significantly boost the prospects of the two companies. With few fossil fuel resources, Finland has a thriving alternative energy industry, which accounts for 30% of the country's electricity and offers excellent market opportunities for renewable technologies. "Waterpumps WP Oy has installed over 50 compact turbine generators in Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, and the German project further extends its market through technology co-operation," says Juuso.
As power-plant specialists, Henkel, Rotzsche und Bard has gained a technology that can be incorporated in future designs. "This makes it more attractive to potential clients and enables it to identify many more viable hydro-power sites," says Raimund Bröchler of IRC Hessen/ Rheinland-Pfalz.
Waterpumps WP Oy is providing theoretical and practical training to Henkel, Rotzsche und Bard employees, ensuring that skill and knowledge is transferred, as well as technology. For the Finnish company, the project has opened up not just a market in Germany but a whole new area of application in shallow elevation hydro-power, and it has established a new firm to carry out commissioning and maintenance.
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