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Rooftop Turbine Provides Glimpse of Domestic Energy Future

29 October 2004

A company from Scotland, UK, have completed a deal with Scottish & Southern Energy that could herald a new era in domestic energy.

Renewable Devices have developed the Swift rooftop wind energy system comprising a carbon fibre rotor with five sculpted blades and a tail fin and aim to make the product a common feature of the urban landscape.

Dr David Anderson and Dr Charles Silverton, the Directors of Renewable Devices are leading a ten person team of aerodynamic and electronic engineers towards preparations for the mass production of this Scottish-designed, Scottish-built home turbine system, which could change our view of renewable energy.

The patented Swift Rooftop Wind Energy System, manufactured with wet layed carbon fibre and aluminium castings, plugs directly into the home grid, it will retail at around £1,500 and promises to repay that in electricity savings to the average household in the first three to four years of its 20-year guaranteed life.

A spokesperson told Netcomposites that the choice of composite material was based upon the improved rigidity that carbon fibre can provide over alternative materials. He added that the selection of carbon fibre would also make the innovative product more attractive to investors, and was instrumental in the deal signed with Scottish & Southern Energy earlier this week.

As Anderson explains it, there was no ""eureka moment"" in the long process of trial and error in aerodynamic and electronic exploration that allowed them to conquer the glitches that have so far prevented turbines from being safely installed on roofs.

""We were colleagues in the engineering department of Edinburgh University and wanted to provide accessible renewable technology to the UK market.""

The key to their big idea was the diffuser which prevents air being thrown at high speed off the ends of the blades. This is the source of the ethereal din and inefficiency common to all previous wind turbines. Also, at high speed, the sculpted rim acts like the inlet of a jet engine, speeding the flow of air through the rotor plane, boosting its overall efficiency and allowing it to generate up to 1.5kW of electricity at one time (around 4500kW annually). Meanwhile, the twin fins at the back hold the turbine into the wind like a weather vane.

""Our business plan from the beginning was to prove the concept and then, as we progressed through pre-production, to attract a large corporate partner who could add value with the right combination of installation capability and marketing and sales channel ability.

The Silent mast mounting Swift System, standing at around 2 metres tall, features a renewable heating system which augments existing hot water system with a rated power output: 1.5 kW. The System incorporates safety features which exceed all the British, European and North American safety standards for wind energy systems of this class.

The product is claimed to produce more energy in its lifetime than is incorporated in the materials and processes used to manufacture it - it is therefore “harm neutral”. On average, a single rooftop system installed in the UK will save 2.81 Tonnes CO2 per annum.

In December, 2003 Renewable Devices was awarded a SPUR grant from the Scottish Executive for the field testing and pre-production manufacture of the Swift Rooftop Wind Energy System, starting in January, 2004. This SPUR Award and a portion of private investment are combined to make a total investment of just under £500,000. This funding will allow the company to fully field test and certify the Swift Rooftop Wind Energy System with key development partners over the next 12 months, prior to market launch.

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