Wind energy is a type of renewable energy one would love to see everywhere, be it out in the rural country of the United States or atop one’s more urban dwelling. The problem with the latter is that it is often impractical to put more traditional looking wind turbines on the roof of an apartment building. Enter the vertical axis wind turbine design, with one of the more recognized companies in this space being New York City-based Urban Green Energy (UGE).
UGE has made a bit of a splash for itself in the vertical axis wind turbine market with its, if a wind turbine can be called as such, stylish looking designs, also known as the eddy and eddyGT models. The company has on its hands as well a contemporary looking hybrid streetlight called Sanya, which draws power not only from a turbine but also an integrated solar panel. These products and others are helping to raise UGE’s profile, as was a gutsy move the company made back in January when it chose to be one of the first wind turbine companies ever to go on display at the Consumer Electronics Show. To learn more about UGE, we recently interviewed CEO Nick Blitterswyk.
EarthTechling (ET): How did Urban Green Energy come to be involved in wind power?
Nick Blitterswyk: Urban Green Energy was from the start focused on vertical axis wind turbines. It was a technology I was interested in and after extensively researching the industry I came to believe that it was an excellent opportunity based on market potential as well as the players that were at that time in the market. Fortunately I was able to convince my two co-founders of the same and in late 2007 we decided to start UGE. Here we are a little more than three years later and we couldn’t be happier with that decision.
ET: Talk about your eddy vertical axis wind turbine. What makes it so unique?
Blitterswyk: eddy is a culmination of our original goal to make wind energy accessible to a much wider audience. Although the larger wind turbines that we are all used to seeing in wind farms are a very well established technology, small wind (or “distributed wind”) is still very much in its infancy. That is largely because traditionally small wind turbines have mimicked larger ones – they usually look very much the same.
The issue is, however, that the types of winds one encounters on a smaller scale are quite different than the ones on wind farms. For starters, getting a permit for a really tall tower is almost impossible for most people. But also, if you are only spending a few thousand dollars for a wind turbine such as eddy, it usually doesn’t make sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a tall tower for that turbine. As such, the winds that most small wind turbines face when closer to the ground switch directions more frequently and are generally more turbulent, so you need a wind turbine that takes that into account.
eddy does this through several features. The first thing you’ll notice is that it operates on a vertical axis. By being designed in this way, at any time it can take winds from any direction without needing to pivot, which is a huge advantage when the wind is switching directions frequently. Second, the blades are curved in several dimensions so that no matter which way wind is coming from there will be a part of the blade for it to catch. One other piece of technology we are proud of is our “dual axis technology”. The way we have designed the wind turbine is such that we have an inner and outer axis, which allows us to spread the turbine’s weight as well as the sideways forces over a greater distance, drastically increasing the product’s durability and performance.
And of course, it helps if the product looks attractive and I couldn’t be more pleased with the product’s appearance. The organic, sexy product is a real eye catcher. We also give the option to customize the color to give it a real personal feel. The product is also virtually silent and has almost no vibration. When all put together, it’s a product that looks and performs great for its user.