The move toward a more sustainable society is often defined by non-profits, artists and government policy (whether positive or negative). The transition to a society that can endure will however have to rely on business and entrepreneurs to make it happen. Idénergie based in Montréal, is one of these small businesses putting technical expertise, creativity and a drive for change to work to bring new and necessary products to market.
Founded by Pierre Planchet in 2011 Idénergie has designed and is now selling a run of the river turbine to provide small scale, reliable renewable energy. This turbine, designed to be placed on river beds with very little impact, was created here in Québec. Only about four feet long and easy to install, this technology is meant to provide consistent electricity year round with little maintenance or upgrades.
Idénergie strives to address issues of intermittence inherent in other renewables by relying on flow rather than head. That is to say, the technology does not need a large drop in height to produce electricity, rather, it relies on the consistent (though less powerful) flow of water on the waterbed. Because of this set up, these river turbines can provide consistent power 24/7, not having to rely on sun or wind.
Being on the riverbed and harvesting power in the flow of the river also makes these turbines safe for the environment, people in the area and even recreational vehicles. Taking only a day to install and with little to no maintenance, this technology can play a role in solving energy problems in remote and developing areas. This idea didn’t just appear, it has taken years for Pierre Planchet and his team to get to a marketable product.
After quitting his job to travel, Pierre Planchet realized that a revolution in energy production was on its way and he wanted to be a part of it. He returned to school in 2009 to do a Masters in Renewable Energy and it was during these studies that the idea of a river turbine first occurred to him. Rather than sticking to simulations, he decided to build a prototype for a river turbine out of scraps to see if it was even possible. Though this first model was awkward, ugly and inefficient, it proved the concept and encouraged him to explore the idea further.
By 2010 Pierre convinced Gilles Trottier and Denis Bastien to join him in his venture and help found Idénergie. In 2011 they won the Pierre Péladeau grant for young entrepreneurs and since, have been improving the designs and testing the river turbine. This year, after 4 years of development the first river turbine is available for purchase directly from Idénergie.
With the turbine up and running, Idénergie is looking at the best application for this technology. Here in Canada this small scale solution could be great for camps, cottages and cabins without access to power. Rather than having to worry about lugging a generator and the fuel necessary, with a river turbine, you would always have non-polluting, reliable electricity without the hassle of fuel. In the developing world, Pierre sees this turbine filling a desperate need for reliable power. Communities without power could have access to reliable refrigeration, communication and light, promoting health, education and safety. The major advantage of this turbine over solar or wind is that the electricity is consistent, not fading with monsoon rains or wind-free weeks.
Pierre Planchet and Idénergie represent young entrepreneurs using their ingenuity and creativity to make the world a better place. We can be proud that these great minds and good people live and work in our communities. Let’s support these ideas and businesses so they can become the future of our economy.
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