Thordon bearings to enter hydro power market with new turbine range
The 1.8 million zloty project will mark Thordon Bearings’ entry into the hydro turbine market, following TG-DNALOP’s acquisition in March 2019 of the 67kW Struzyska hydro power plant near Pila, Poland
Thordon Bearings, through its subsidiary T-G DNALOP, has been awarded a 1.3 million zloty grant from Poland’s National Centre of Research and Development (NCBiR) to design, manufacture and market a series of new micro-hydro turbines in the 5 to 100kW range.
The 1.8 million zloty project will mark Thordon Bearings’ entry into the hydro turbine market, following TG-DNALOP’s acquisition in March 2019 of the 67kW Struzyska hydro power plant near Pila, Poland.
Thordon Bearings will collaborate with the Polish Academy of Sciences to develop a low noise, pollution-free, highly efficiency, double-regulated Kaplan-type turbine based on Permanent Magnet (PM) technology.
Tomasz F. Jerzak, General Manager of T-G DNALOP, Thordon’s manufacturing plant in Poland said: “We are delighted that NCBiR has approved funding for the development of a new hydro turbine. A key element in being awarded the grant is that the development will result in Poland’s first completely pollution-free turbine for sale to hydropower sites all over the world.”
Work will start in October to prepare the Struzyska facility for turbine manufacture and testing, with the plant’s existing 17kW No.2 turbine scrapped to make way for the new design.
The other two machines at the plant will be completely refurbished to showcase the new turbine along with Thordon’s new range of water lubricated turbine guide bearings, wicket gate bearings and face seals, all of which will be a key feature of the environmentally sustainable turbine.
Thordon innovator and 2019 winner of the Elmer A. Sperry award, George A. (Sandy) Thomson said: “The new turbine will be the most environmentally and energy efficient turbine in its power range. There will be no drives or gears, it will be flexible enough to deal with different water flows and there will be absolutely no risk of pollution; it will be completely grease- and oil-free. It will also be one of the most affordable turbines in the market.”
The first test hydro turbine is expected to be installed and commissioned at the Struzyska facility in December 2020, with an additional set of turbines produced for onward sale.
Greg Auger, Thordon Bearings’ Hydro & Clean Power Business Unit Manager, said: “We are very excited about entering this market. It is a challenging and interesting project for us to work on, leveraging our experience working to promote oil and grease free solutions in the hydropower market. Our initial focus is on the design and successful testing of the first prototype, after which we will establish a sales and marketing network across the areas in which we look to position the new turbine.”
While coal-fired power plants currently dominate the Polish energy market, renewable energy-based power generation is forecast to grow exponentially over the next decade as part of Poland’s long-term strategy for sustainable development.
“Currently, hydro power makes up less than 2% of the total amount of electricity generated in Poland. However, we understand that Poland's objective is to increase their share of energy from renewable sources to 15% over the next few years including constructing small hydropower plants and modernizing existing facilities, so we hope to be an important part of this transformation,” said Auger.
Although micro-hydro systems were used in Europe and the USA from the end of the 19th century, many were abandoned as larger grid connected power became available. However, there is a growing trend, particularly in Germany and the UK, to set up micro plants along small rivers, usually on sites which were previously used for water mills.
Smaller hydro plants have also been set up in the hilly areas of Sri Lanka, the Philippines, China and the Americas.