RiverStar systems can be camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings.

Image courtesy of Bourne Energy

Advantages of RiverStar

RiverStar is a portable system that doesn't require any construction to be done on the river bottom. Each module collapses so that it can be shipped to the river site. According to Bourne Energy, it can be installed in as little as a month. And when it is no longer wanted or needed, it can be removed from the river just as easily [source: Bourne Energy].

Thanks to its portability, RiverStar can be used in areas of the world that have up to now been too remote to receive power. In addition to providing electricity to these locations, RiverStar can provide drinkable water and treat wastes [source: Bourne Energy].

RiverStar units may also be gentler on the environment than current hydropower plants. Although hydroelectric plants are far cleaner than coal and gas plants, they can still produce greenhouse gases such as methane when debris and vegetation fall into the reservoir and decay (this is particularly true in warm, humid climates) [sources: New Scientist, Nelson]. According to Bourne Energy, RiverStar produces zero carbon emissions.

But what about environmental concerns? Because the RiverStar turbines spin at a low RPM, they shouldn't harm the fish and other wildlife that pass by. They also shouldn't disturb the river sediment or affect the water temperature, as dams can do.

Bourne Energy says that RiverStar is designed to coexist with populations living along the rivers where it is built. Residents can lease out their land and get paid for the energy that is produced from it. The arrays are constructed so that they do not interrupt local marine traffic. And RiverStar can be camouflaged with plants and other vegetation so that it looks like small islands, rather than energy-producing equipment.