Ecotricity’s Urbine hopes to bolster micro wind turbine credibility

February 14th, 2013 by ecotricity

Britain’s first green energy company Ecotricity are set to carry out final tests on a British-designed-and-made micro wind turbine – called the Urbine – which could be up to 40% more efficient than similar sized windmills on the market.

The vertical-axis windmill will undergo six months testing in Stroud, Gloucestershire before undergoing official performance certification at Myres Hill wind turbine test site in Scotland.

Dale Vince said after 20 years of working in wind power he had decided to step into the micro wind sector because the poor design quality of windmills risked undermining the credibility of wind energy.

Urbine wind turbine (click image to expand - image courtesy of Ecotricity)

“Most micro windmills on the market are simply scaled down versions of large wind turbines and that is a mistake,” he said.

“Large windmills rotate on a horizontal axis and do a great job because they turn themselves to track the prevailing winds, but our 20 years of experience have shown us that closer to the ground and in more built up areas, you get completely different conditions with the wind constantly changing direction.”

“Micro windmills with that horizontal design spend too much time searching for the wind. A vertical-axis turbine, such as the Urbine, doesn’t care which direction the wind comes from, so is perfect for the more challenging wind conditions where micro windmills get installed.”

“We don’t want people getting disillusioned and becoming sceptical about renewable energy because they buy a micro windmill and it doesn’t work as well as it could,” Dale Vince said.

“So we’ve created a British-designed, British-made small windmill that is an excellent piece of engineering; it’s super-efficient and has great potential for the export market and the creation of new green jobs.”

A recent Renewable UK study of 80 British companies involved in the supply chain for the wind energy sector (such as: manufacturing, infrastructure and support services) found the sector provided over 12,000 full-time jobs – most created in the last five to ten years.

Further analysis of those companies found:

  • Only 24% of companies were in the wind sector supply chain over ten years ago;
  • 76% of the companies entered the wind sector supply chain in the last ten years;
  • 39% entered the wind sector supply chain in the last five years.

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said “Britain’s green energy sector is a part of the next industrial revolution which is being created now.”

“It’s a really exciting time and the world is about to see a range of new green innovations emerge – machines that harness wind, wave and tidal power – and will once again have ‘Made in Britain’ stamped on them.”

After six months, a second Urbine will be installed at the Myres Hill Wind Turbine Test Site in Scotland which offers high average wind speeds and complex terrain.

It will go through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme for the UK market, which tests for power performance, safety and function, acoustics, component strength, fatigue and durability, and design file and load calculation.

It is hoped that the Urbine micro wind turbine will be available in the UK by the first quarter of 2014 under the UK Feed-in-Tariff scheme currently used for solar panels.


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