US-based energy start-up Emrgy has acquired $18.4m in series A funding for its development of hydrokinetic turbines which can be dropped into underutilised waterways.

The funding round was led by Oval Park Capital with investors including Fifth Wall, Blitzscaling Ventures, Overlay Capital, and Veriten.

The company will develop modular turbines at its assembly facility in Colorado, which is due to open this spring with an estimated 5MW per month capacity. The turbines produce power continuously as water flows, while limiting  disruption typically associated with the installation of turbines into waterways.

Emrgy’s new projects are set to be developed in the US, Europe and Australia. The funding will be used to expand the company’s development, operations and engineering teams.

Emily Morris, CEO, said of the funding: “It is an honour to lead Emrgy into our next pivotal phase of growth, as we continue to deepen our efforts to meet record demand for renewable energy via rapidly deployable, cost-efficient technology”.

The turbines have already been deployed at a number of sites with customers including Denver Water, Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company, and Oakdale Irrigation District. Emrgy has projects in New Zealand and a pilot system underway in South Africa.

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Justin Wright-Eakes, Managing Partner at Oval Park Capital said that the company “believes Emrgy’s modular, cost-effective, and quick-to-deploy systems have the potential to reintroduce hydropower to the global renewable energy conversation that has been dominated by solar and wind in recent years”.

Pilot projects test hydrokinetic power

A pilot project between Emrgy and Denver Water began in 2017, using a modular design allowing for easy installation and removal for maintenance. The system connects to the grid using similar onshore power electronics equipment to the solar industry.

Denver Water told CleanTechnica that: “Another enhancement in this design focused on the concrete flume box assembly. The flumes include curves in the concrete structure that direct moving water to pass by the rotors more efficiently”.

Unlike conventional hydropower, Emrgy’s turbines do not require a gravity drop and head pressure to produce power, removing the need to dam waterways.

According to Peter Gajdoš, partner and co-lead of the Climate Technology Investment Team at Fifth Wall: “Water infrastructure holds instrumental opportunity for decarbonisation and Emrgy is accomplishing this in a scalable way that we have truly never seen before”.