To make wind energy generation possible in towns and cities, Galway startup Yeloblade has developed a new turbine that’s both compact and silent, and can sit on a flat roof.
“Traditional wind technologies can’t be used in urban locations due to their size, generated noise and also because of planning stipulations,’’ said Yeloblade founder Liam Hanley, who has spent the last five years developing a turbine which is only 1.6 metre high and 1.2 metre wide.
What’s unique about Yeloblade’sturbine is that it has no external blades, because all the moving parts are internal. This gives it a completely different look to traditional turbines.
“The system uses a novel approach of manipulating air pressures to drive an internal turbine and generator. Although it is 1. 6 metres tall, it can generate the same output as a 10-metre tall traditional wind turbine,” said Mr Hanley, adding that in a suitable location it can generate 800kw of power a year — enough to charge 100 mobile phones every day for 365 days.
Listing additional benefits besides the fact that it’s small and silent, he says it doesn’t require a foundation or planning permission and, unlike traditional turbines, doesn’t have problems with birds and debris getting caught in the blades.
A material science engineer with experience in aerospace and the medical device industry, he’s had an idea for a micro-turbine in his head since he was a teenager.
And moving to Galway in 2010, he decided to act on it.
“I noticed that the city has a lot of wind but no local turbines to make use of it,“ he said.
Starting work on a turbine in his spare time, he set up the company in 2016.
The first blades were 3D, printed with a yellow filament — that’s why it’s called Yeloblade.
He subsequently signed up forEnterpriseIreland’s New Frontiers programme and secured a bursary of €15,000.
In 2017, he secured €50,000 in Competitive Start Funding which allowed him to develop the prototype and set up a test site at Galwayairport.
By the end of the year, he had set up a small facility to produce wind turbines in Tuam Business Park.
Then late last year he installed a field unit at the National Parks and Wildlife visitor centre at Ballycroy in Co Mayo.
Using this site to establish that the turbine is market-ready, Mr Hanley this year begun working on a sales strategy.
Admitting that it is difficult to create a market for a new product category, he said he devised a long term plan and short-term targets.
The long-term goal is to develop the model so that customers get a payback on their money in five years and then sell directly to commercial customers.
He expects the market and the technology to have evolved to this stage to within five or six years.
In the short term, he said he is going after two niche markets which provide Yeloblade with immediate opportunities, including talking to energy consultants involved in building buildings, which under building regulations, are required to use a portion of their power from renewable sources.
“Some buildings don’t have sufficient roof space for solar panels and have difficulty producing the required amount of renewable energy,” said Mr Hanley who believes that a Yeloblade wind turbine provides a perfect solution for buildings with limited space.
In addition to talking to energy consultants in Ireland, he is also talking to companies in Scandinavia who require energy sources in remote off-grid locations such as weather stations.
Developing sales to these niche markets through strategic partners, Mr Hanley aims to have installed several wind turbines by mid-2020.
Currently Yeloblade’s only full-time employee, he contracts the services of engineers and consultants when they are needed and also gets assistance from colleagues.
Identified as a High Potential Start Up by Enterprise Ireland, Yeloblade plans to raise funds next year to scale up and hire more staff.