Want to stay ahead of the Jones' who drove home a new electric Ford Focus with its own solar unit last weekend? Power your car up with the personal wind turbine out back behind the rose garden. That's now possible with the release of a wind-powered EV charging station developed by GE and Urban Green Energy known as the "Sanya Skypump." The Skypump is a miniature vertical wind turbine that "offers a net-zero energy solution for EV drivers around the globe," wrote David Droz at Urban Green Energy by email.
The Skypump is actually two clean-energy technologies merged together: GE's rapid EV charging WattStation (under 6 hours of charging time), and a vertical axis wind turbine capable of connecting directly to the grid and generating enough juice to power a modern EV (under the right weather conditions). "Combining the [two] was simply a matter of working together to create a functional merger of the two electronic systems while maintaining the compact form," wrote Droz.
The Skypump's vertical rotor blades (capturing multi-directional wind more effectively than horizontal turbines) sit atop a 42-foot tower, about the height of light and power towers already common in suburbia. This drives a four-kilowatt generator as long as wind speeds are above 7 mph, and achieves peak output at wind speeds of about 26 mph. For now, the Skypump is designed for commercial uses such as parking lots. A similar setup already powers streetlights. But the turbine can be combined with a wall-mounted home WattStation to create a residential version, zoning laws permitting. The WattStation is packaged in smart, curvy shell by industrial designer Yves Behar, if you need to impress that local zoning board. Good luck with that.
The first three pilot projects are rolling out in Barcelona, Beijing, and New York City next year. Urban Green Energy is betting that the market for EVs--forecast to account for 64% of U.S. light-vehicle sales by 2030--is going to demand easy-to-install, turn key solutions for charging infrastructure. The Skypump can be plunked down just about anywhere with the right energy profile (enough sun and energy) from parking lots to roadsides.
If you want to try this at home, maps of wind energy potential are available from public sources such as the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA, as well as organizations such as Windustry (UGE recommends pairing this with on-site tools that log wind and weather data).
But at a suggested retail price of $29,995, you may need to have a fierce neighborly rivalry to try this at home. Commercial applications seem far more plausible, since a company could put multiple Skypumps up at a corporate campus.