In this special Cleantech Innovation Series sponsored by Autodesk you’ll hear unique insights from a number of entrepreneurs, start-ups and innovative cleantech companies designing and building solutions for a more sustainable future. See more here.
Whisper–quiet wind power
Most traditional forms of energy come from non-renewable sources and the production of these types of energy can also be damaging to the environment, but a revolutionary design re-establishes new forms of wind power as a viable source of energy
Renewable Energy Solutions Australia (RESA) Principal Commercial Manager, Michael Le Messurier, came to the renewable energy sector with a passionate desire to make a difference to the world and to the environment.
Since 2008, RESA has been developing and refining the Eco Whisper Turbine in an effort to harness the power of the wind to create a renewable source of energy. Initially, RESA were trying to design a product they thought would be well suited to the market. They found that many of the pre-existing negative perceptions of wind turbines were around noise and environmental impact and they were determined to meet those perceived design constraints head on.
The global energy crisis
The world’s reliance on non-enewable energy resources, such as oil, coal and gas, is not sustainable as the extraction process is damaging to the environment and the use of these resources contributes to climate change. Le Messurier says, “Many people come home and turn on the power switch for their kettle or TV and they don’t really know where it comes from or how it has come to be. We take it for granted in many countries.”
Awareness of climate change and global warming also drives the demand for renewable energy. “Five years ago it was nowhere nearly as important as it is now – climate change is having an impact and people want renewable energy.” Le Messurier refers to renewable energy, whether it is wind, solar or any other form, as ‘disruptive technology’ as it disrupts the traditional sources of energy. He is in the process of launching his team’s disruptive technology, the Eco Whisper Turbine, across the globe.
In simple terms, the Eco Whisper is a turbine that generates power from the wind. Le Messurier explains, “It’s a turbine that follows the wind so it’s always trying to point into the wind. Basically the wind turns the blades and it’s all directly connected to a generator. The power from the generator goes through a conversion process and we can either put that energy back into the site into batteries or it goes back into the grid. It’s a pretty simple process.”
A revolutionary aspect of the Eco Whisper Turbine is that it’s virtually silent due to an outer ring placed around the tip of the blades. Le Messurier explains the concept by drawing a parallel to a common desk fan or room fan, “As the speed increases, the noise increases as there’s more air coming off the tip of the blades however the outer ring prevents that from happening.” The Eco Whisper Turbine also has 30 blades rather than the conventional two or three, which gives it the ability to start rotating and generating power with just a slight breeze.
Easy–to–use enablement technology
The team behind Eco Whisper found that the Autodesk® Inventor® software was integral in the design and development of the Eco Whisper Turbine. Le Messurier says, “The engineers found it extremely easy to use and it made their lives a lot easier. It’s enablement technology, it’s creative, it’s the means to do it. If you’ve got an idea or vision, how are you going to do that? Using this software enables you to do that.” He adds, “Through the Cleantech Partner Program, Autodesk provided us with software which we normally wouldn’t have been able to get our hands on. It’s allowed us to develop our unique technology and it has really opened up opportunities for us. The Cleantech Partner Program has been a great help for us as they understand that renewable energy is a growing industry and it’s where we both want to be.”
A virtually silent global impact
The Eco Whisper Turbine has changed people’s perceptions of wind as a source of renewable energy. There have been concerns in the past about wind turbines causing negative health effects and having adverse environmental impacts but Le Messurier says: “The Eco Whisper Turbine really knocks a lot of that on the head. It’s virtually silent, it’s had no detrimental impact on bird life to date and it’s quite a pretty looking product in its aesthetics and design. It has become something that people like and want to be associated with.”
The Eco Whisper Turbine was a finalist in the 2011 Australian Cleantech Competition, it was awarded the 2012 Queensland Premier’s Sustainability Award in the Innovation in Technology category and it was recently awarded a $250,000 commercialisation grant from the Australian government.
The turbine is capable of producing up to 30 percent more power than the traditional three– bladed designs and it has attracted considerable interest from all over the world, from Africa to China, Denmark to Kazakhstan, Slovakia to the USA and many more in between. Le Messurier predicts that in five to ten years every home will have solar panels on their roofs and everyone will have a level of autonomy from not being as reliant on massive power stations. “In twenty to thirty years time, everyone will have renewable energy whether it’s solar, wind or some form of energy that is renewable.“
There are plans for an aggressive expansion of Eco Whisper Turbine across the globe over the next 12 -18 months with a focus primarily on the North American and Asia market.
Renewable Energy Solutions Australia is part of the Autodesk Cleantech Partner Program. The program supports clean technology innovators who are developing innovative solutions to solve the world’s environmental challenges. As part of the program, eligible companies receive world-class software to design, visualise, and simulate their ideas and accelerate their time to market through 3D Digital Prototyping. To apply for or learn more, visit www.autodesk.com.au/cleantech
Le Messurier, RenewEconomy editor Giles Parkinson and others will appear at a panel on entrepreneurship at the All Energy Conference in Melbourne on October 7. See here for details.