Drivetrains for small wind power

Accelerate Wind is to working to revolutionize rooftop wind energy in the commercial and industrial space and drastically lower the cost of small wind turbine technology. The company is developing small-scale wind power systems that can be integrated as part of a sustainable energy platform to power buildings. The edge on design features efficiently capture and translate high-velocity wind currents into energy.

Critical need for this technology

This technology could help increase the percentage of renewable energy generated by society, and therefore cause an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. It could also help to balance out the grid, as the end users of the technology are likely to be those who also install solar energy on their roofs. Because the wind blows at times when the sun doesn’t shine, this will allow renewables to offset grid power for a greater percentage of the day.

For the owners of the technology, it will provide cost savings on building operations. Due to peak demand charges from utilities that are becoming more prevalent (charges based on your maximum demand, which is oftentimes not at times when solar panels can reduce loads), many commercial building owners are even finding it economically viable to install batteries that can store energy and release it at time of peak demand to reduce their overall energy bills. The company’s wind turbines will allow building owners to smooth out peak loads in way that is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than batteries.

Supplemental need for this technology

Because the energy will be generated at the place it is being used, it could cause a greater societal awareness of energy generation technologies through more constant exposure. Building owners may become encouraged to think about other energy-related aspects of their building, such as ways to reduce overall consumption more than they would have been otherwise.

Competition

  • Traditional power generation
  • There are a few startups which have worked to capture faster wind from the edges of the roof, or to use a combination of louvers and the venture effect to increase rooftop wind speed and decrease turbulence. However, these companies typically do not focus on reducing drive train costs as part of their main strategy. They are also typically more vertically integrated, performing design and installation themselves on each building.
  • There are a number of wind startups in the commercial building or high-rise space. However, we expect our costs to be lower due to our unique combination of designs to simultaneously reduce the costs of wind turbine blades, the drive train, and the soft costs incurred in sale and installation. Additionally, the majority of these competitors are in Europe and not yet focused on the U.S. market.

Potential markets

 

Customers will be solar installers in the commercial and industrial space. Rooftop renewable energy sales are typically made by developing trusting relationships with building owners. As a result, most communities are served by a multitude of small to medium-sized solar installers who offer very similar products but have different trusted relationships. In a market that is often volatile and sensitive to unexpected changes in policy, solar installers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition and diversify their offering so that they can stay resilient despite market changes. Additionally, selling to solar installers allows us to decrease the average “soft costs” for wind energy by leveraging their existing customer base, and skills in permitting and installation.

Value proposition: Accelerate Wind provides an innovative combined solar and wind solution for commercial and industrial roofs which makes rooftop wind energy economically viable, architecturally pleasing, and noiseless. As an add on product to solar installations, our technology is placed at the edge of roofs, where wind speeds are typically 1.5-2x faster than other parts of the roof, and is used as additional power generation on roofs which cannot provide their energy with solar alone.

 

Key innovation

The key innovation involves a flywheel-based drive train that minimizes costs associated with power electronics that are economically prohibitive for small wind applications.

 

R&D status of product

Accelerate Wind has completed a basic proof of concept prototype and has validated the mechanical concepts through CFD modeling and some basic proof-of-concept tests on a roof. The drive train architecture and associated control scheme has been validated with an extensive Matlab simulation. Accelerate Wind is currently integrating models from potential component manufacturers into its simulation to add higher fidelity to the model in parallel with building a proof-of-concept prototype of the drive train. The drive train concept is patent pending.

 

Team overview

Founder and CEO

Erika Boeing [add link to corresponding “Innovator” webpage when ready]

M.S. in Society, Science, and Technology from Maastricht University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

 

Technology profile

Status:R&D
Primary industry:Energy generation
Category:Wind power

Estimated annual revenue:NA
Employs:NA
Social challenge:Energy and manufacturing
R&D commercial collaborator:NA