To Urban Green Energy CEO Nick Blitterswyk, small-wind turbines are becoming one of the many gadgets consumers crave.
The New York City-based company next month plans to make available a one-kilowatt version of its Eddy small-wind turbine, which will cost $6,600 before installation. With good wind conditions, the grid-connected turbine can generate at least 1,500 kilowatt-hours a year, offsetting most homes' total electricity use, Blitterswyk said.
Eddy is one of many vertical axis turbines vying for attention among consumers and businesses looking for on-site power options. Urban Green Energy's wind turbines have a design that makes them perform very well in changing wind conditions, said Blitterswyk. A two-axis shaft reduces strain on the permanent magnet generator at the base of the turbine and improves the performance, he explained.
The turbines are also attractive enough that people will want to mount it on a pole or rooftop. "I really believe wind energy is on the verge of becoming a consumer product. It has a real desire to it," said Blitterswyk. The company, which sells through distributors, plans to exhibit at the next Consumer Electronics Show alongside other consumer-oriented tech gear.
Sales of small-wind turbines have increased at double-digit rates the last three years, aided by a 30 percent federal tax credit. At the same time, though, there's growing understanding of the wind speed needed for these small-wind turbines to have a reasonable payback period.
As a rule of thumb, wind installers say that small-wind turbines should be far above obstructions, such as trees and other buildings, and have an average wind speed of about 10 miles per hour. Eddy fits into these requirements, too, said Blitterswyk. So far, Urban Green Energy has sold units to corporate and residential customers.
Blitterswyk said that he faces skepticism among installers about small-wind turbines, particularly vertical axis turbines which have not yet lived up to expectations. But he said with incentives and a 10 mph average wind speed, people can generate electricity at less than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is below the national average.
The company, which manufactures its turbines in China, has been self funded so far and released its first turbines two years ago.