Belgium-based Turbulent have installed a system of three 37 kW vortex turbines along a river in Murang’a, Kenya, powering 400 homes and a handful of businesses.

From Superinnovators 02/07/24

View of vortex turbine from above in Murang'a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.
View of vortex turbine from above in Murang’a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.

Their innovation involves diverting river water through spiral features that generate whirlpools, spinning the turbine blades to generate electricity.

This G-STIC initiative, funded by the Flanders Government, was delivered with Kenyan-Belgian green energy company Hydrobox and Belgian smart energy firm ByNubian.

Prior to the project, frequent power cuts posed significant challenges.

For instance, farmers struggled with irrigation, school lessons were disrupted, and businesses were forced to shut early.

And when the lights were on, they were powered by diesel generators, especially when large-scale hydropower plants failed – a regular occurrence.

Diverted river water spinning vortex turbine blades around, Murang'a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.
Diverted river water spinning vortex turbine blades around, Murang’a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.

Now, the community has access to green electricity around the clock.

Replacing diesel with the 111 kW hydropower system will eliminate between 900 and 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually, according to the company.

What’s more, vortex turbines require less space compared with solar panels and avoid large-scale environmental disruption typical of big hydropower projects.

They’re designed to allow fish to pass through safely and only need a height difference of between 1.5 and 5 m and a flow rate of 1 – 4 cubic metres per second to be viable.

The company also say the turbines’ efficiency and low maintenance make them ideal for rural areas, providing a reliable green energy source 24/7.

Murang’a joins six other Turbulent installations already operating, including sites in Taiwan, Chile and Indonesia, with a further seven in the pipeline.

Map of three vortext turbines, Murang'a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.
Map of three vortex turbines, Murang’a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.
Diagram of vortex turbine, Murang'a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.
Diagram of vortex turbine, Murang’a, Kenya. Credit: Turbulent.

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