Sweetch Energy optimises zero-carbon electricity generation technology with Rockwell Automation

Global group in industrial automation and digital transformation Rockwell Automation will support the automation of Sweetch Energy’s power generation technology through the deployment of a process control system and remote operations visualisation.

Nicolas Heuzé, co-founder and CEO, Sweetch Energy

Sweetch Energy’s first osmotic demonstrator plant is currently under construction and will soon be operational at the Barcarin lock in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône, France.

Osmotic energy is naturally generated by the difference in salinity between freshwater and seawater. The Ionic Nano Osmotic Diffusion (INOD) technology developed by Sweetch Energy is reportedly the first technology of its kind to be marketed on an industrial scale.

Sweetch Energy co-founder and CEO Nicolas Heuzé said, “Our INOD technology is addressing the challenge of producing clean, competitively priced electricity that is available 24/7.” According to him, osmotic energy will become a main component of the global energy mix due to INO. He added, “We initiate the international rollout of our operations, starting with the US this summer.”

The French osmotic energy supplier plans to deploy several osmotic stations at the mouth of the Rhône to harness natural osmotic energy. These stations will represent up to 500MW of carbon-free electricity production capacity, capable of supplying more than 1.5 million people the equivalent to the population of cities such as Marseille, Barcelona, or Amsterdam.

Manufactured using bio-sourced materials, the osmotic generators using the technology can be located at any estuary or delta. Water is the only input in the process and is fully returned to the river mouth, with no chemical waste or pollutants created.

Unlike other renewables, the osmotic generators are not dependent on weather conditions and can produce clean electricity continuously. The technology can also be incorporated into locally sympathetic structures, hidden away, or even installed underground.

Rockwell’s technologies will be used to automate, control, and monitor the system as well as optimise the process and power-generation efficiency. The technology to be deployed at the pilot plant is also highly scalable, allowing Sweetch Energy to create standardised, modular, with worldwide support for installations of any size anywhere.

“Our process solutions, visualisation technology and domain expertise are being deployed in such a fascinating project,” said Eric Chalengeas, regional vice-president, south region, Rockwell Automation. “Our global presence will also help it expand into other regions, where we can continue to offer global service and support.”