Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The sincerest form of flattery is...

Over the last week I’ve been sent a number of perplexed emails pointing me in the direction of the Ecomagination competition run by the good people at GE http://challenge.ecomagination.com/ct/ct_list.bix?c=home), and more specifically to an entry called the “RidgeBlaster”. If you care to take a look at this entry, it may occur to you that it looks remarkably like the RidgeBlade. So much so that many of you have been asking "why have you changed the name and entered another competition when you have already won Europe's biggest prize and created a revolution in effective, discrete, low cost micro-wind technology?"

Well, to be absolutely clear, we have nothing whatsoever to do with the “RidgeBlaster”. As you can imagine, all of us at the Power Collective were amazed by the coincidence that the looks, function, claims, and name of the “RidgeBlaster” are so remarkably similar to that of the RidgeBlade. So amazed were we, in fact, that we had to ring our good friends at international law firm Macfarlanes and ask them if they were amazed too because, like us, they are great fans of genuine innovation. I note that the person who has put entered the “RidgeBlaster” into the competition has a number of other entries, and I’m sure that if all of his ideas are as original as the “RidgeBlaster”, then he will certainly achieve the level of commercial success that he deserves.

So, here at Power Collective HQ we all wish the entrant well and I’m sure that, like us, he will appreciate the huge task that is ahead of him. When we won the Green Challenge with the RidgeBlas, sorry, RidgeBlade (confusing isn’t it?) we had 2 years of R&D behind us and a working prototype designed by our Technical Director, a former Rolls Royce engineer, trained in turbine blade design. We were also well advanced with the trivial issue of intellectual property and our leadership team contained one of the UK's leading manufacturing specialists and a man who is known as the 'National Grid' given how well connected he is in the legal, environment and energy markets. Even then we underestimated the task ahead of us in turning the concept into a marketable product. Noise, vibration, safety, performance, certification, reliability, insurance, every one of these issues has to be tested and addressed thoroughly before a product can be put on sale. Any defect or design flaw could necessitate a recall, and if that were to happen, then not only would the RidgeBlade be a flawed product, but the whole concept of low cost roof mounted urban wind turbines would be discredited.

As you will know if you’ve been following this blog, we are now testing the final product, and whilst I’m sure that this could have been achieved more quickly if we had unlimited resources behind us, I don’t think that we’ve done too badly. When the RidgeBlade is launched we can be confident that it has been thoroughly tested, and will produce useable electricity safely and without noise or vibration. It’s the real deal, and it’s worth waiting for.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

At last we have some good news to report! As I mentioned before, we have had delivery of the first 10 RidgeBlades. After a slight delay due to the heavy snow, we have now got the first two units installed, and we are very pleased with the results. As you can see, the finished unit looks very much like the artist's impression in the previous blog entry. As with any new product we have encountered a few small teething problems which are already fixed, and will be incorporated into future production versions of the RidgeBlade. Until you actually have a builder on a roof installing the things, all you have is theory, and the modifications are mostly to do with making the units easier to work with and install - I'm pleased to say the the actual operation of the units is exactly as we had expected. It's too soon for any output figures yet, but there's nothing to suggest that we are going to be disappointed. One thing that I can say is that the units operate almost silently - so that's another objective achieved. As ever, we seem to be progressing much more slowly than we would like, especially given the level of interest around the world, and it can sometimes be very frustrating, but I recently spoke to someone within a much larger wind turbine company, and they were amazed at how far we had come in so short a time, so I suppose that it is all a question of perspective. So our "to do" list is pretty clear: incorporate modifications into the design of the next production units, install the remaining 8 RidgeBlades, gather lots of data about real-world performance, and then see if anyone wants to buy one....