California-based research and development company Bourne Energy has developed a novel hydropower technology that does not require a dam or reservoir to produce power.The RiverStar river power system is a 20-foot long self-contained energy module composed of a stabilizer, energy absorber, energy transmission and mooring system and energy conversion and control system designed to be sited in-river in long arrays. The concept behind the RiverStar is to harvest hydropower along the entire length of a river instead of harnessing energy in one massive site using a dam and reservoir.
The system can be applied to each river's environment, culture and commercial activities as seamlessly and invisibly as possible thus opening up vast untapped amounts of hydropower worldwide. RiverStar does not stop or slow natural processes such as fish migration, sedimentation and biological processes, nor does it prevent other commercial and/or private river traffic.
Bourne plans to build a series of prototypes leading to full-scale demonstrators to promote its utility scale hydropower power systems worldwide.
Hydropower is currently the world's major renewable energy, producing 24% of global electricity. It is also the least expensive energy, having an average cost of 2-5 cents/kWh. But only 4% of the world's gross hydropower potential has as of yet been developed.