Renewable Energy Solutions, the Australian developer of small-scale wind energy technology known as Eco Whisper, has reached a major milestone with the installation of a 20kW turbine at the Tullamarine industrial facility adjacent to Melbourne Airport.
The 21m-high Eco Whisper, which looks more like the cowling of a jet engine than the propellor designs of larger turbines, is just the second installed by the company and is part of an order of four turbines for a Tullamarine manufacturing firm, which plans to use them to offset around 20 per cent of the energy use on its site.
“It is a significant deal for us,” business development manager Michael Le Messurier said. “Once we have got one or two up, everything will get going.”
The company promotes the turbine as being “near silent” and highly efficient in low winds. The 20kW model – an adaptation of a US invention of the 1940s – costs around $135,000, although Le Messurier says the payback times can be as little as 5-6 years, depending on the wind conditions.
The technology attracts a feed in tariff – but only in Victoria and Tasmania at the moment – and qualifies for large scale generation certificates under the national Renewable Energy Target.
Le Messurier says deployment could be boosted by the Clean Energy Future package, which provides $800 million to manufacturing companies and a further $200 million to the food industry. Renewable energy investments such as wind qualify for funding in the scheme.
“I think we will see manufacturers and wineries will buy them, schools and universities have shown interest, along with rural areas and off-grid locations,” he told RenewEconomy. “It has given us an extra kick start if you like.”
The company has also received a grant from Commercialisation Australia to develop a 5kW model that it hopes will be attractive to smaller commercial premises, communities, schools, universities, or even individual households in semi-rural areas.
The company says the Australian market may only be 1MW to 5MW a year for such technology, but export opportunities could be immense. Le Messurier says the largest markets for small scale turbines have been the UK and the US, but Japan could also be a significant market as it searches for alternatives to nuclear and is poised to announce generous feed in tariffs for renewable energy technologies.