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Small-scale power from the wind

The world is getting used to the idea of high oil prices, and higher electricity prices seem inevitable as well, in Europe at least. Which is why renewables, with wind at the forefront, look set to grow even faster. PEM-Energy is downsizing wind turbines to help you and me upsize our usage of green power.

Wind power is becoming an increasingly important source of renewable energy and one that is available everywhere, in principle. With the prospect of electricity prices continuing to rise, particularly in Europe – following the announcement of the EU’s latest energy action plan and its commitment to making Europe the ‘first economy for the low-carbon age’ – the need for wind power is only set to grow further.

PEM-Energy has anticipated this trend and developed a small wind turbine solution for households, holiday home-owners, farmers, and small businesses that want to make their own ‘green contribution’. Known as MyPower, the product was launched at the end of 2007 in Finland.

The MyPower wind turbine is rated at 2 kW, which is sufficient to cover the needs of a small home. The rotor blades have a diameter of 3.5 metres, and the unit can be easily fitted to a roof. If space permits, multiple units can be connected in series.

Depending on how much output from a unit can replace conventional electricity and the level of local electricity tariffs, typical payback times for a MyPower unit are likely to be between two and seven years.

The design has been optimised to perform at even relatively low wind speeds, of 2-8 m/s, giving it a clear advantage over previous small systems and greater flexibility in terms of where to locate a unit.

PEM-Energy’s MyPower wind turbines offer environmentally friendly electricity for small-scale use virtually anywhere.

Combining wind power with fuel cell technology

PEM-Energy is no stranger to environment-friendly energy technology, as it has been in the business of developing, producing, and marketing fuel cell systems since 1998.

Fuel cells generate electricity and heat from hydrogen, producing only water as a by-product, based on an electrochemical reaction invented back in 1839 by Sir William Grove. Since Grove’s original invention, the materials, fuels, and catalysts used have been much developed, but the basic concept remains unchanged – and offers a clean, efficient, and reliable way of generating electricity that is attracting increasing attention.

As in the case of its new MyPower wind product, PEM-Energy has focused on small-scale applications in its fuel cell product line as well, for use at locations where normal electricity supply can be unreliable.

Drawing on both wind and fuel cell technology, the company is now in the process of developing a 5 kW combo solution. This will be capable of generating electricity for immediate use with a compact wind turbine and using any surplus power to produce hydrogen for a fuel cell, for generating electricity when wind levels are either too low or too high, or when consumption exceeds wind power output.

> Mikael Seppälä
(Published in HighTech Finland 2008)