Many ways have been found to get more energy out of solar panels performance. Exotic materials, advanced electronics and concentrating mirrors have all been used to improve solar panels. Now, Bourne Energy, an energy/water tech startup,has successfully tested an alternative approach, the Fusion Power Panel. This power technology is based on the concept that there are many renewable energy sites across the globe that have more than one clean power source that could be harnessed at the same location, at the same time. Bourne has found the most common dual-power areas have solar and hydro power. The company has developed a device to harness two different energies from the same footprint at the same time. They named it the Fusion Power Panel.
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Bourne has combined its expertise in hydrokinetic technologies with marinized solar panels to create this floating hybrid power system. The low, flat profile panels are designed to interlock with other panels to be moored in rivers, canals, tidal flows and aqueducts. And the solar panels on the topside of the float capture the sun’s power while micro-hydrokinetic turbines on the bottom harness the hydro power from the passing current. Together they silently produce high density power without being interrupted by clouds, rain or even nightfall.
This unique combination also boosts power output of both the solar and hydro components. The surrounding water is used to cool the PV panel increasing output by up to 10%. It is also used to spray the dust and dirt off the surface of the PV panels which can rob up to 30% of the power. Further this configuration eliminates the need for foundations and supports that make up as much as 40% of total PV costs. The unit provides a stable, cost-effective foundation for the hydrokinetic turbine array.
The potential market for such a renewable energy system stretches from rivers in Italy, Brazil and Indonesia to tidal flows in Chile and Spain, canals in India and aqueducts in the US and China. Its strong, steady output makes it particularly valuable for: clean power for data centers, backup power for nuclear plants, energy recovery from dam outfalls, canals, aqueducts, baseline as well as backuppower for IoT, and remote power for ROVs.
High output means higher profitability which eliminates the need for subsidies and that enhances overall sustainability. This kind of high output, low cost power source has the potential to speed up renewable energy’s war against climate change and declining energy resources. Bourne Energy is looking for partners to help introduce this power technology to a energy hungry world.
Water shortages, overpumping of our groundwater, and declining water quality are some of the most talked about issues in the news every day. In response, the water industry has been fast improving theefficiency of the lowest cost approach to water filtration and desalination: Reverse Osmosis (RO) technologies. Over the past three decades the cost of producing freshwater has been cut over 50%. Now the renewable energy industry has gotten into the act and is testing ways to replace fossil fuel entirely and the carbon that comes with it by using solar and wind powered RO systems. Initial developments are promising but are not yet cost competitive with fossil fuels.
Bourne Energy, an energy and water tech startup, has found another way to produce fresh water using renewable energy, but with a twist. Bourne has found a way to harnesses two different energy sources drawn from the exact same footprint thus producing several times more power than a similar size solar panel. Bourne’s Fusion Watermaker Panel, a floating watermaking panel now under development, combines the best of solar and hydro power while bypassing their major limitations. Solar power can be harnessed almost anywhere and operates silently and cleanly. But it is costly and requires a sizable footprint while producing a small amount of power for only 20-25% of the day. Hydro produces much more power all day at a lower cost but requires enormous construction producing a sizable environmental impact.
The Fusion Watermaker Panel is derived from the company’s well received smaller cousin, the RiverStar “Backpack Power Plant”. This newer, much larger version is composed of approximately 2,500 square feet of solar panels covering the surface of a 60 foot diameter round floating panel. Total solar power output is estimated to be approximately 42kW/hr and 250kW/day. Twenty micro-hydrokinetic generators are attached underwater around the perimeter of the panel. Each generator utilizes proprietary technology to drive a DC generator producing 600W/hr per unit and totaling and estimated 12kW/hr and 280kW/hr every day. Total output per panel, estimated to be more than half a megawatt a day, powers four internally mounted state-of-the-art RO systems capable of producing freshwater from either brown water or seawater.
Placing solar and water power systems together in one unit creates many benefits. This hybrid configuration actually improves the output of the solar side of the system. The surrounding water is used to cool the PV panel increasing output up to 30%. Water is used to spray dust and dirt from the surface of the PV panels which can rob power up to 30%. Furthermore the float eliminates the need for foundations and supports that make up an average 40% of total land based PV costs.
The potential market for a high output, zero-fuel, zero-carbon watermaking system stretches from rivers in Italy, Brazil and Indonesia to tidal flows in Chile and France, canals in India and aqueducts in the US and China. This new watermaking system can be used to provide drinkable water to remote areas of the world, cleanup mining wastewater, agricultural water runoff, and replenish aquafiers. The Solar Hydro Watermaker Panel also possess wide industrial applications including: bottling plants, food, coal and mining, defense and government, agribusiness, eco-resorts and international emergency services.
For the industrialized world a high output, low cost watermaker spells higher profitability which reduces the need for subsidies and enhances overall system sustainability. For the Developing World a new steady source of freshwater that is high output and low cost brings affordable clean water and food and a new level of sanitation a sustainable reality.
- Hybrid Renewable Power Sites – Sites where there is a combination of hydro, solar or wind power potential within the same footprint.
- Electric Utility Industry - Most utilities, both US and European, are mandated to utilize a percentage of green power. The power they most need is a steady source which does not require backup power plants to be online. This allows them to close their carbon-intensive coal fueled power plants.
- Water Utility Industry – Increasing demand for water from industrial, agricultural and consumers have stressed traditional aquifiers and groundwater sources. Water companies have been turning toward the construction of reverse osmosis water making plants to fulfill these growing demands. Approximately half of the cost of every gallon of processed water is energy.
- Industrial and public wastewater treatment sector – These complex, energy intensive systems are needed more and more to protect the water quality of our rivers and lakes.
- River and groundwater remediation sector – Many river areas suffer from poor water quality. Energy–efficient water remediation systems are needed more than ever to clean up our rivers and lakes.
- Modern agricultural sector – The world’s poorest people need access to affordable energy so they can plow, plant food and collect crops. What is needed is smarter more efficient farming technologies applied to heavily populated regions of Asia and Africa. Modern electric or compressed air fueled equipment is needed to till the soil. Trickle utility quality electricity is needed for the computer controlled global positioning and other computer systems which modify the amount of fertilizer, seeds and pumped water applied within each field based on varying soil and moisture conditions.
- Large rapidly developing countries - The sheer size and robust economies of India, China and Brazil will play an increasingly important role in the international energy markets according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) which is promoting the use of alternative energies to reduce that demand.
- Corporations - Most major corporations are attempting to reduce their environmental impact.
- Military - Man-portable systems and larger systems for military bases. Military equipment is becoming increasingly sophisticated delivering far greater capability such as network centric warfare and advance weapons and protection systems. The unavoidable side effect is the increasing demand for mobile electrical power on the battlefield. The demand to combine maximum adaptability with sustainable power is leading to the increasing use of renewable energy on the battlefield.
- Data Centers - The tech industry is facing an energy crisis. The cost of power consumption by data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006 to $4.5 billion in the US. The cost of cooling data centers is about 50% of the total cost of power consumption.
- Water Maker - The world is suffering increasing shortages of freshwater. One solution is reverse osmosis but it is energy intensive.
- Compressed air production
- Dams - There are 8,000 powerdams worldwide and many produce significant hydropower in their outfall areas.
- Island power system - Many islands in the world have usable amounts of local wave and tidal power.
- Green Buildings
- Power Backup
- Bottling plants
- Backup power for cell towers and other remote communication systems
In addition to the basic RiverStar-50 power producing module, specialized versions of RiverStar have been developed to serve these markets. All of Bourne Energy's hydro-kinetic power systems are multi-functional platforms, which offers many alternative variations to its various major components to be able to adapt to the largest number of power sites as possible.