Skip to main content

Blog Innovate UK

Innovate UK
Innovate UK

A new approach to low-head hydropower

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Funding, Support

Hydropower is conventionally synonymous with dams, large turbines and extensive infrastructure which have implications for the aquatic environment and community.

But what if schemes could be cheaper, less visually intrusive whilst still generating the power we need?

We at VerdErg have developed Venturi-Enhanced Turbine Technology (VETT) which does just that.

Venturi-Enhanced Turbine Technology (VETT) assembly
Venturi-Enhanced Turbine Technology (VETT) assembly

This low-head hydropower technology generates energy from fluvial and tidal flows from 1-3 m head (pressure) differences. With a device for the run-of-river market already available, we have also started developing a Tidal VETT too. 

Using innovation to meet the needs of the energy market

Hydropower is key in addressing climate change and improving energy security.

It accounted for almost three-quarters of global electricity generated from renewables in 2014 (IRENA, 2016). But renewable energy needs to be affordable to really make a difference.

Our patented VETT achieves this by constricting a main flow through a venturi to increase the velocity, which in turn creates a region of low pressure.

By bypassing 20% of the flow through a turbine into the venturi, the turbine can operate at an amplified head (pressure) difference.

VerdErg CR&D

Consequently, a smaller, more efficient turbine can be used, reducing the extent of the civil infrastructure, visual footprint and build costs.

By integrating proven turbine technology and existing materials and supply chains, this opens up projects previously deemed uneconomical with conventional technology.

Hydropower, fish and the environment

As well as being affordable, hydropower needs to be accepted by regulators and society which means considering fish passage and other sensitive environmental factors. Our live fish trials have proven safe passage through VETT’s primary flow (the secondary turbine flow will always be screened).

In addition, our DECC funded SETS study concluded that a VETT scheme would reduce the environmental impact caused by inundation by two thirds in comparison to conventional barrage technology.

Transforming the tidal energy sector

To date, only a few tidal schemes in the world have been commissioned as difficulties with consenting and funding have caused this resource to remain largely untapped. With support from Innovate UK, we applied the basic principles of our uni-directional run-of-river device to create concepts for a bi-directional tidal device using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).

Now we have three promising full assemblies to be taken forward for further development which we believe will one day transform the tidal sector. You can find out more on our website.

The future of VETT

We are busy engaging with project developers and communities in deploying our run-of-river VETT and establishing our place in the hydropower market. In parallel, we are embarking on prototyping our tidal device and realising this much needed technology.

Contact us

If you want to find out more about VETT, visit our website You can follow us on:

You can follow Innovate UK on:

Sharing and comments

Share this page

1 comment

  1. Comment by Andrew Senior posted on

    I have long been a believer that this type of technology should form part of our national grid generation efforts. It is gratifying to at last see something on the net. Has there been a study done of the UK river network to find viable sites? If not then it is about time that someone started to nudge and cajole the government into doing so and start to push for this type of generation equipment to be installed up and down the country in all available sites.