I had a chance to speak with Nick Blitterswyk about his company, Urban Green Energy. Although he’s based out of New York City, he has a Canadian west coast pedigree. He grew up on Vancouver Island where his parents were caretakers of a provincial park. So, as the cliche goes, you can take the boy out of the natural wildlife setting, but you can’t take the natural wildlife setting out of the boy….or something to that effect. Nick moved to New York and became an actuary, but he heard the wind turbines calling and left the insurance business to turn his attention to developing small wind renewable energy systems.
All of the wind turbines at Urban Green Energy turn on a vertical axis as opposed to a horizontal one. They are designed to capture wind shifts and turbulence which are common traits of wind patterns in cities. One of the main problems with urban wind patterns is that the wind patterns are inconsistent, dominated by gusts, shifts, swirls and other unpredictable patterns. It makes traditionally designed horizontal-axis wind turbines ineffective at capturing all the wind energy available. However, one of the other issues with vertical wind turbines is that the bearings wear quickly. According to UGE’s website, this problem is addressed through the design of the “dual axis technology” which provides a more durable turbine that is quiet with no vibration.
The Eddy is the first product Urban Green Energy introduced to the market. It is installed on rooftops in urban areas around the world. It is the smallest wind turbine UGE makes. Blades are made from carbon fiber and fiberglass, and spin on a vertical axis. At full speed, the wind turbine will output 6oo Watts of power, and can generate up to 945 kWh annually. This is a stand alone unit. ie., non-grid tie-in. It hits its maximum generating speed at 12 m/s or 26 mph.
Eddy GT: Grid compatible, generates 1000 Watts of power at optimal wind speed of 12 m/s. Blades are made of carbon fiber and fiberglass. At an average speed of 5.5 m/s, average annual energy output is about 1750 kWh/yr.
Eddy VisionAIR5: This is the largest turbine in the UGE family. It generates up to 4000 Watts, and 6000 kWh/yr of electricity based on a 5.5 m/s average annual wind speed.
The Sanya, a hybrid solar/wind LED street lamp. This is a stand alone street lamp that uses a 77W LED single bulb. Electricity is generated from a 150W solar panel and the Eddy 400 Watt wind turbine. The incorporated battery pack can store enough energy to power the 77W LED street lamp for either 5 or 7 days depending on the battery.
Sanya Skypump: Perhaps one of the niftyest new products UGE has developed is the Skypump. This is a joint project where UGE’s Eddy4K is used in conjunction with GE’s WattStation to provide a charging station for electric cars. One of the criticisms of electric cars has always been that it’s not really “green” if the main source of electricity that’s supplied from the grid is coal, natural gas or nuclear-generated. This device makes that argument obsolete. As more electric cars are brought to market an independent system like this can help offset some the electric grid issues which governments are now considering.
Distribution: UGE has distributors throughout North America and the world. The cost of the Eddy starts at around US$4000 not including installation and electric hookup. Most distributors will offer consumers the full installation package, be sure to check with your distributor about what your final price includes.
Nick also told me that Nova Scotia has just launched its FIT (Feed in Tariff) program, so it’s a reminder that it’s important to check with your local government to see what kind of renewable energy benefits are available in your province or state. For information on where your province is at in terms of FIT legislation, check out this page on the Alliance for Renewable Energy website.
To find a UGE distributor near you, click here. For more information on Urban Green Energy, visit their website.