winds of change

Submitted by JimmySprout on Mon, 2011-12-19 13:28

domestic wind-turbine unitdomestic wind-turbine unit

As Eskom keeps raising the price of our local electricity, more of us are seeking new, greener and cleaner, independent sources of power. Not only can 'off-the-grid' power save us (a lot of) money, it is also more kind to our environment than the coal-hungry power of Eskom. Although often more expensive upfront, green and localised sources of electricity always pay themselves off… and once that’s done, guess what? You’ve got free power!

Wind power. The words evoke ideas of large tracts of open land, rolling hills and massive wind-turbine blades sweeping over the landscape. This is often the case and wind-turbines are commonplace in many developed nations where green and renewable energy sources have taken a strong stand for some time now. Although South Africa has been lagging somewhat on this front, we are now well on our way to radical wind-power prospects. Wind energy is one of many alternative energy sources that will (and should) start making a regular appearance in South Africa. Advances in technology, creative innovation and the need for greener and more independent power sources have changed the way many wind energy companies are thinking about wind-power electricity generation.

One such company is Psiclone Renewable Energy Solutions, which has turned the table on local micro-scale wind power electricity generation. Their latest product is a small, domestic or commercial wind-farm that can be installed on the roofs of homes or businesses. This new, so-called ‘wind tree’ turns vertically and horizontally and excess power is stored in a battery for later use. Designers Norbert Jeschke and Samir Buffkins have spent more than 8 years creating this design perfection – a small, quiet and unobtrusive generator with laser-precision blades. It is markedly efficient and needs only a slight breeze to operate. Even 1 metre per second winds will get this little device whizzing you up some power. The mini wind farm can provide enough electricity for most of the power required for the home and coupled with solar panels and solar-geyser heating, one may quite easily attain an ‘off-the-grid’ power status.

Psiclone Renewable Energy Solutions' wind farm project at Intaka IslandPsiclone Renewable Energy Solutions' wind farm project at Intaka Island

The company have also designed smaller scale models for rural application with enough power to provide electricity to a fridge, TV set and lighting. This may be a milestone product for RDP housing units and remote areas where grid electricity is still often unavailable. Access to electricity is one of the key principles of economic growth and development and will steadily increase the possibilities for those currently without electricity. In addition, it is also more and more important that new developments be created as sustainably as possible and as such, wind-power electricity generation is a forward-thinking option to power supply problems.

Although green energy is currently at a premium (especially in South Africa where we generally lack the technology), such inventions will dramatically cut power costs in future. Domestic systems can cost up to about R 100 000, but as production and demand increases, the price will decrease. For now, the saving in electricity can be used to pay off the initial expenses. Psiclone Renewable Energy Solutions is a local product, the proudly south African label stamped all over it - the manufacturing is outsourced to a number of local companies and as orders increase, so will the number of jobs they provide. Rapid advances in the technology behind such systems will also see more models available with a greater degree of specialisation and application. All in all, it seems that the sky really is the limit for wind power in South Africa and it is sure to reap social and economic rewards for many. This green, sustainable source of power will also move us into a greener future of power generation in SA.

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