Winners of this year’s GE Ecomagination Challenge–focused on powering the homes of the future–have yet to be announced, but the contest has already created the potential for real change in the market for residential renewable energy, through the collaboration of two of its top contenders.
James Post and Shawn Buckley both have innovative designs. Post’s is the Smartwind RidgeBlaster, a wind turbine system that fits unobtrusively along the ridgeline of the average home, minimizing aesthetic impact as well as turbine noise. Buckley’s is a combined solar power and heat system that cuts expensive silicon to a minimum by using Fresnel mirrors in a solar concentrating scheme.
After a few weeks of discussion and brainstorming, Post and Buckley have developed a concept for marrying their breakthrough technologies in a highly efficient and potentially game-changing way. The new system takes the RidgeBlaster and combines it with a custom solar PV concentrator that replaces the cap that normally covers the wind turbine. This cut isnstallation costs by almost half (over installing both technologies separately), guarantees unobstructed sunlight exposure to the solar concentrating system (regardless of the orientation of the house), and allows both systems share one inverter, at significant savings to the homeowner.
The two start-ups plan to proceed with marketing and developing these technologies as a single system, focusing on bringing on architects and other industry professionals on line with the technology as well as on offering the package for lease directly by homeowners.