With around 7.8 billion people on the planet earth, it’s no secret that we need more resources to sustain for our future generations. Currently, governments of various countries are focussed on solving problems like food shortage, energy production, water conservation and more. At the same time, some innovative cleantech startups are also working on solving some of these dilemmas.
India-based Maclec is one of them and recently it has made a name for itself at ClimateLaunchpad, the world’s largest green startup competition. The contest recognises budding cleantech startups and their accomplishments.
Maclec secured the second spot at the competition with its innovative approach for energy production. The startup pitched its revolutionary hydrokinetic turbine technology, which unlike traditional turbines, can be installed in a half-submerged manner, even in shallow and slow-moving streams. The company employs modules that can be tailored locally, and their solution can generate 1 kW to 500 kW in a single module.
In a conversation with Maclec’s Co-Founder, Balram Bhardwaj, we find out more about the startup, how it works, and what’s in store for the future.
What’s Maclec all about?
The company was founded in a rural area of India, where the founders grew up, mostly without any electricity powering their homes. Bharadwaj says that “it took about eight years to develop a system that could harness the power of slow-moving streams and convert it efficiently into electricity and the journey wasn’t easy either.”
“We started back in 2011 with the project, and there was quite a bit of bootstrapping involved. After coming up with Maclec, we needed the government’s approval for deploying it in rivers and canals. However, in order to achieve this, we needed to deliver a proof of concept with the help of a higher education society, which was the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, in our case. Professor R. P. Saini from the Institute helped us with our endeavour and finally, the government of Uttarakhand, an Indian state, gave us a grant,” says Bharadwaj.
The technology behind Maclec
Current hydropower turbines being implemented for electricity production have certain limitations as they can only be employed in certain areas. Maclec tries to address those issues and go one step ahead with its floating hydrokinetic turbine technology, which doesn’t require complete water submersion. Since the turbine is surface velocity driven, it can be submerged in merely 0.4 meters deep water and requires just 0.7 meters per second of water flow to generate electricity.
Another advantage of Maclec’s technology is that it doesn’t require fresh water to operate and can be used in streams or rivers with dirty water. That makes a big difference since conventional water turbines can be used only by constructing a dam on freshwater bodies, which has a notable environmental impact.
Cost of technology
Maclec developed the technology to work almost anywhere Bharadwaj says that its value depends on where the turbine is being deployed. In case it is being placed in a water stream that has a flow velocity of more than one meter per second, it will cost about €725 per kilowatt. If the flow velocity is lower, about 0.7 or 0.5 meters per second, it may cost around €910 per kilowatt.
However, Maclec’s tech is still said to produce six times the power – a solar solution, three times cheaper in comparison. The startup is also in a fast-track phase to deploy its kinetic turbines all over India, after going through a pilot phase in 2018 and now commercialising its services. It currently has recurring projects of 5 Megawatt, 3 Megawatt, 2 Megawatt and so on. The startup will also cover a 10 Megawatt project in 2020.
Do you want to join the 2020’s competition with your green business idea? Check www.climatelaunchpad.org